3 ways Jim Henson celebrated his story | Great Life Storytellers

Image | NY Daily News

In my Great Life Storytellers series, I'm talking about people who have "celebrated" their story by living lives on purpose. These are people that are in touch with their mission in life and use their talents in some way to make other people and/or the world better by having been a part of it.

Last time, I shared some insights on how I feel my parents have been great life storytellers. Today, I'm talking about someone you may know - a very well-known television and film storyteller, Jim Henson.

Aside from the likely probability that I am, in fact, a Muppet, I really admire Jim Henson as a person for what he did with his life and what he has left us. Inspired by him, I'd like to share 3 ways I think he lived a meaningful, intentional life that matters and then I'd like to be just as generous below!

3 Ways Jim Henson Celebrated his Story

1. He gave his characters a sincere love of silliness, making it okay for us to be silly too.

When I worked in the LA film industry, I saw a job posting once at The Jim Henson Company. The job description was fairly standard but it closed with this line, "Must have a sincere love of silliness." That phrase, "a sincere love of silliness," has always stuck with me.

To me, it perfectly describes Jim Henson's characters from Big Bird to Miss Piggy. Though they run the gamut from kindness to irreverence, his characters are not mean spirited. Their silliness doesn't come at others' expense. He made it okay, through his characters and content, to be silly, so long as there's some heart behind it.

2. While he had his own projects, Henson helped others find fantastic opportunities, including Yoda.

Henson's longtime partner in puppetry, Frank Oz, is famously known for puppeteering and voicing Yoda in the Star Wars franchise. While that's a well known fact, it's less known that it was actually Jim Henson who pitched Frank as Yoda to Star Wars Director George Lucas. The result, one of the most iconic characters of all time. Apparently Jim Henson even campaigned extensively to try and get Oz an Oscar nomination for that role.

Steve Whitmire, who now performs Kermit and took over when Jim died, was also mentored by Jim Henson. The story goes that Steve showed up one day at Henson's office, hoping to do anything that'd be useful. Henson took him under his wing and ultimately, Whitmire took over one of his greatest legacies: Kermit.

Extending far beyond individuals, Jim Henson also started a foundation, The Jim Henson Foundation, to promote and preserve the art of puppetry in the United States. It still operates today, ensuring a future for those who loved the art form he so enjoyed.

3. He poured so much of himself and his heart into his characters and work that it lives on, decades after he's left us.

I could say a lot on this but instead, I'll leave you with this clip from the Muppets. It's taken from a time just after Jim Henson's death and features one of Jim's favorite songs. The sentiment of all of this assures me of two things: Jim Henson's lasting legacy and the pervasive value of being kind to others.