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YouTube / Henson Rarities
YouTube / Henson Rarities

Watch 'The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson' from 1990

YouTube / Henson Rarities
YouTube / Henson Rarities

Jim Henson died on May 16, 1990. It was a shock, as he was busy producing new projects with Disney and seemed generally at the top of his game. The infection that killed him could have been treated if he had gone to a hospital earlier. But Henson wasn't particularly fond of doctors, in part due to his Christian Science upbringing.

In the weeks after Henson's untimely death, several memorials were held, and by November, CBS aired a special tribute to Henson, complete with celebrity guest stars, various documentary bits on Henson's early career, and clips from many of his projects (Sesame Street, The Dark Crystal, Timepiece, and even his early commercial work).

The special also answered a key question the public had, following Henson's death: What would happen to Kermit? Simple: Steve Whitmire, a longtime Henson collaborator, would perform the character. Sure, Kermit's voice wasn't quite the same, but Kermit as a muppet would continue, and that was the important part. As the special says, "That's the way the boss would want it." Enjoy:

Trivia note: This also happens to be one of the last performances by puppeteer Richard Hunt, who performed Scooter and Beaker, among others. Hunt died in 1992.

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The Jim Henson Company
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entertainment
The Dark Crystal Is Coming Back to Theaters
The Jim Henson Company
The Jim Henson Company

In 1982, Jim Henson and Frank Oz dared to venture into somewhat gloomier territory with the release of The Dark Crystal. Though the film, which centers on two Gelflings (a sort of creepy elf-like creature) attempting to save their species and restore peace to the world, wasn’t a huge hit at the box office, it has developed a large cult following in the more than 35 years since its release—even among those kids it scared the hell out of back in the day. Now, as Netflix preps its prequel series, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, for release later this year, Nerdist reports that the original film will make its way back into theaters next month.

As part of Fathom Events’s ongoing effort to breathe big-screen life back into classic films with limited releases across the country, The Dark Crystal will be playing in more than 500 theaters nationwide on February 25 and February 28. In addition to the original film, the screenings will also feature a brand-new introduction courtesy of Lisa Henson, Jim’s daughter and current president/CEO of The Jim Henson Company, who will talk about the making of the film and how it fit within her father's creative legacy.

To find out whether The Dark Crystal will be coming back to a theater near you, log onto Fathom’s web page for the movie and type in your ZIP code; tickets are on sale now.

[h/t: Nerdist]

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Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
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Pop Culture
See How Sesame Street Puppeteers Bring Their Characters to Life
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Elmo, Big Bird, and Mr. Snuffleupagus aren’t just puppets to fans of Sesame Street: They’re vibrant characters who are every bit as real as the beloved series' human actors. It may look effortless, but bringing foam, fur, and feathers to life is a skill that takes years to master. WIRED asked five Sesame Street puppeteers to share the secrets behind the craft in a new video.

Different puppets rely on different mechanics to function. Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus, for example, consist of puppeteers (two in Snuffy's case) wearing full-body suits, while smaller characters like Elmo and Abby Cadabby have single puppeteers with one hand inside the head moving the mouth and another controlling rods attached to the arms. Some puppets have eyelids that move up and down. For puppets without this feature, puppeteers have to come up with creative ways to express emotion. Elmo puppeteer Ryan Dillon pulls a wooden handle in Elmo’s head when he wants to give the character a puzzled look.

Translating hand movements into convincing facial expressions is tricky, but one of the biggest challenges the crew faces is space. Next time you see four or five Sesame Street puppets in the frame at once, try picturing that same number of full-grown adults rolling across the floor beneath them.

For the full interviews with the puppeteers, check out the video below.

[h/t WIRED]

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