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A Toast to the Puppet Master

There’s only one block in New York City where the birds are 8-feet-tall, the trash cans have permanent residents and bath time is always fun. I’m talking, of course, about Sesame Street.

The longest-running kids’ show on TV turned 45 this year. To celebrate, the New York Public Library for Performing Arts at Lincoln Center is hosting a special exhibit, called “Somebody Come and Play.” Check it out:

We dropped by last weekend and it got me thinking…. Did anyone dominate their chosen field more than Jim Henson? The Sesame Street crew of Big Bird, Elmo, Grover, Burt & Ernie is just the beginning. Then you’ve got to factor in all of the other Muppets like Kermit, Miss Piggy, and my personal favorite, The Great Gonzo. (Side note: The Muppet Christmas Carol, with Gonzo in the role of Charles Dickens, is a top 10 Christmas movie – “light the wick, not the rat.”)

The Muppet Show was a little before my time, but this one wasn’t:

And, of course, Henson and his long-time collaborator, Frank Oz, were also responsible for the greatest puppet of all time – the Jedi Master, Yoda. He may sound like a cultish Miss Piggy, but the original Empire-era Yoda, like his Sesame Street forbearers, imparted great wisdom on many young minds.

Sadly, Jim Henson passed away in 1990 at just 53-years-old. But, he left us with some pretty amazing characters for generations of kids to enjoy, from Sesame Street to the Dagobah System and back.

October 16, 2014 by Ted Flanagan
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