September 24: Jim Henson

Jim_Henson_MuppetsHi-ho, Michael the barkeep here, and today we’re celebrating what would have been Jim Henson’s 78th birthday. Henson is best known for creating the Muppets and Sesame Street, but he began working with puppets long before he introduced the world to Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo and the rest.

Henson got his start when he was just a teenager, making puppets for a Saturday morning children’s show called The Junior Morning Show that was broadcast in the Washington D. C. Later, as a college freshman, Henson would be hired by another D. C. station to create a puppet show called Sam And Friends. The show featured five minute sketches starring a bald humanoid puppet named Sam and his friends, which included a lizard-like creature called Kermit.

From there, it was only a matter of time before Henson and his felt puppet-marionette hybrids received national attention, appearing on many different tv shows. In 1963, the Muppet Rowlf the Dog appeared on The Jimmy Dean Show and quickly became Dean’s sidekick. In 1969, the Children’s Television Workshop hired Henson to work on a new education children’s show called Sesame Street, and in 1975, Henson would create Muppet sketches for the first season of Saturday Night Live. Although the Muppets and Saturday Night Live parted ways after that first season, Henson would draw inspiration from that variety show to create The Muppet Show.

The Muppet Show united Kermit and Rowlf with a whole troupe of new Muppets as they attempted to put on their own variety show full of sketches, songs and celebrity guests. Of course, backstage antics and a pair of grumpy old hecklers would always keep the show from running smoothly. As Muppet performer Jerry Juhl once said about the Muppets, “if The Muppet Show had a basketball team, the score would always be Frog 99, Chaos 98.”

So, on the anniversary of Jim Henson’s birth, let’s raise a glass to Kermit the Frog’s ability to keep chaos in check with a Green Frog cocktail. This drink’s main ingredient is the bright green banana flavored Dutch liqueur Pisang Ambon, and combining it with lemon-lime soda creates a nice fruity cocktail.

Green Frog

  • 1 1/2 ounces Pisang Ambon
  • 3 ounces lemon-lime soda

Pour the Pisang Ambon and soda into a highball glass with ice. Add a few drops of lime juice and stir.

Tomorrow: America’s first newspaper.

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