Google celebrates Jim Henson’s life with interactive Doodle

24 Sep 2011

The life of Jim Henson, the visionary who brought you The Muppet Show and Sesame Street, has been celebrated on the internet via a special interactive Google Doodle. Henson would have been 75 today.

Henson, who died at age 54 in 1990, was an Emmy Award-winning television producer and Oscar-nominated film director.

The interactive Doodle features six familiar Muppets and lets the user play the role of puppeteer. Click on one of the characters and it follows the movements of your mouse around the screen.

For the next 36 hours, Google is honouring Henson’s birthday on its homepage with the special Doodle created in tandem with The Jim Henson Company.

Many of today’s internet users, including those born the internet generation, would have grown up with Sesame Street and The Muppet Show and in recent weeks Disney released The Muppets (2011) in the US.

Guest writing on the official Google blog, Henson’s son, Brian, chairman, of The Jim Henson company, wrote said Henson lived for those moments when everyone laughed so hard they couldn’t talk.

“Although he loved family, his work was almost never about ‘traditional’ families. The Muppets were a family — a very diverse one. One of his life philosophies was that we should love people not for their similarities, but for their differences.

“Jim often had a little lesson about the important things in life: How to be a good person. How to believe in yourself and follow your dreams. And above all, how to forgive. If anything was stolen from one of us — like when the car was broken into — he would always say, ‘Oh well, they probably needed that stuff more than we did.’

“He loved gadgets and technology. Following his lead, The Jim Henson Company continues to develop cutting-edge technology for animatronics and digital animation, like this cool Google Doodle celebrating Jim’s 75th birthday. But I think even he would have found it hilarious the way today some people feel that when they’ve got their smartphone, they no longer need their brain.

“Jim was clearly a great visionary. But he also wanted everyone around him fully committed creatively. If you asked him how a movie would turn out, he’d say, ‘It’ll be what this group can make, and if you changed any one of them, it would be a different movie.’ Every day for him was joyously filled with the surprises of other people’s ideas. I often think that if we all lived like that, not only would life be more interesting, we’d all be a lot happier,” Henson said.

Below: Jim Henson depicted as a Muppet, with some of his characters



John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years