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Jim Henson: The Biography

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  10,859 ratings  ·  1,301 reviews
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For the first time ever—a comprehensive biography of one of the twentieth century’s most innovative creative artists: the incomparable, irreplaceable Jim Henson.

He was a gentle dreamer whose genial bearded visage was recognized around the world, but most people got to know him only through the iconic characters born of his fertile imagination: Kermit
Kindle Edition, 608 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Ballantine Books
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Beth I thought the book dragged a bit. It begins several generations before Jim Henson's birth, and goes into a lot of detail overall (without ever casting…moreI thought the book dragged a bit. It begins several generations before Jim Henson's birth, and goes into a lot of detail overall (without ever casting him in too harsh a light; for example, he cheated on his wife but that was explained away as there being "two Jims," a work Jim who loved womanizing, including with his employees, and a home Jim who was loyal to his family). I found myself skimming. However, some sections were quite compelling. The account of Henson's memorial service was very detailed and it moved me to tears. (less)
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Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a brilliant biography of a fascinating man. I was familiar with a lot of Jim Henson's creations of course, but I really knew very little about his life. I found this book very compelling, informative and easy to read. I don't think it's a spoiler of any kind to say you follow Jim Henson to the end of his life and I found myself missing him terribly once we reached his death. However his legacy is incredible and Brian Jay Jones did a wonderful job capturing that.

Ended up in here
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
When people ask me why I became a writer, I often cite books that I read as a child, and authors, as being my inspiration. But that's not quite true. That's really what people want to hear (especially if those people are librarians and teachers). But if I had to really, really pick one person who influenced my life, whose work influenced my personality and my writing, I think it would be Jim Henson. I was lucky enough to grow up with parents (especially my mom) who loved Henson's work... all of ...more
Nov 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I can't exactly rave about the book, I can't deny having a goofy perma-grin on my face throughout most of the reading of it, and shameless tears through the brutal ending. The beginning definitely worried me--there's excessive indulgence in the dullard biographer's instinct to trace the family tree a few generations ahead of the subject and bore you with minutiae that won't be relevant to any later part of the book. Once Jim builds his first muppet, though, the story picks up.

This is
Jason Koivu
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you ever loved the Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and The Muppet Babies, well then you love Jim Henson and this is the book for you.

Jim Henson: The Biography is a big book. It's length rivals those classic Russian epics of yesteryear. Jones took his time laying out Jim's history for the reader, setting the scenes of his life, and delving into his motivations. At times I felt Jones lingered too long on one incident or another, but that was probably just my
This is going to be one of those reviews that I constantly change as I think, "omg this part has really stuck with me!" and also because I'm typing on an IPAD that really doesn't show me when things are spelled incorrectly. Any ways...

Of my top five favorite movies of all time three are Muppet movies- THE Muppet Movie, Muppet Treasure Island, and Labyrinth. The other two are subject to change and are currently Pacific Rim and the Avengers, which probably shows that I haven't grown up that much
I feel like I read an entirely different memoir from most of the other reviewers on Goodreads, because this is not one I enjoyed. Granted, I did not finish it, but that was after multiple attempts at reading it. I usually force myself to finish all books, whether or not I really enjoy them, so this is rare that I am returning this one unfinished.

I think a major problem I encounter when reading memoirs like this, is that they are often not written from an objective point of view. Perhaps it's due
Dec 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads
My children grew up watching Sesame Street, The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock. Call the parent police if you must, but occasionally those shows were wonderful “babysitters” allowing me to get chores done and meals prepared. We once took my daughters to a presentation of a behind the scenes look at Fraggle Rock, where my eldest was kissed by a Fraggle – I think it was the highlight of her life up to that point. The chart toppers of the 1980’s are a blur to me (I call them my mommy years) by I can ...more
How can you not love this guy?!
Jim Henson was a big part of my childhood from The Muppet movies, The Muppet Show, Sesame Street and so much more! This book was so much fun reading about his life and how it ended so tragically.
Ross Blocher
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jim Henson: The Biography is a wonderful look at the life of an amazing, creative genius. Jim Henson was one of those exceedingly rare individuals with the drive, creativity and singular vision to change the world. Comparisons are often made (as they are in this book) with Walt Disney, and rightly so. Like Disney, Henson was willing to bet all he had on the next big idea, and those gambles paid off time and time again. He was also adept at recognizing and surrounding himself with talent, and ...more
Shawn Granger
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought I knew Jim Henson, but I knew nothing. I've been a big fan of the work of Jim Henson, even going so far as learning to make my own puppets since I was 10. And I've seen almost everything that he and his family have done, at least with puppets. And now with my child I've seen most of the computer 3D shows as well. I thought I knew a lot about Jim Henson, but this biography made me realize how little I knew.

The book starts out with a very touching introduction and a glimpse into how the
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a pretty big Henson nerd. In college I interned at the Henson Foundation where I was lucky enough to get to see Jim's office, complete with the light up paper moose that is described in the book, tour the creature shop, and to help the Foundation celebrate the craft of contemporary puppetry. I've also read the colorful and photo filled "Jim Henson: The Works", "The Art of the Muppets", which was a catalog for one of the first museum exhibitions. I've seen the more recent museum exhibition, ...more
Ilana Waters
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want to get a deeper look at the fascinating man that was Jim Henson, this is the book for you. Just don't expect that look to be too deep. Although hundreds of pages are devoted to his artistic and business affairs, I would have liked to know more about Henson's family, how they were coping with his success and long absences, his numerous affairs.

Although well-written and certainly thorough, this biography seemed to be more about “Jim the mogul” than “Jim the man.” And although I know
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can’t say I recommend this. For a book with two Muppets on the cover, they spend an awful lot of time talking about how Henson didn't want to be either a puppeteer or The Muppet Guy. It also presents Dark Crystal and Labyrinth as being complete failures. There’s a throwaway comment in the epilogue that points to the movies finding a greater audience in video.

The pacing is painfully slow. A little less of the summarizing of the daily activities logged in the personal diary would help the flow a
David Drent
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Overall I liked this book, Jim Henson was an inspiration to me although not too much of a hero (that honour belongs to my father), I have admired his work and enjoyed almost everything he's done. The exceptions being his strange independent art films, which I have never seen nor have any real desire too.
Although I now have some very disappointed feelings about the way he handled his personal life, I still admire his professional life.
It's hard to review a biography and just write about the book
Nov 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mostly-admiring account that doesn't entirely shy away from some of the more unflattering elements of Henson's life. The NYT reviewer said it best; it's "an exhaustive work that is never exhausting." Jones has woven together a ton of information but manages to keep the story moving along month by month without very much psychologizing.

And I may or may not have teared up at the end.
Marco G
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Lots of interesting moments in Jim's life, many of which I did not know, and some I really wanted to learn more about. The book doesn't disappoint with much personal details provided by his family and personal archives. I adore the muppets and the Dark Crystal, so it was a treat to read about how these came to be. Jim was an interesting guy and I have to admit I did not know much about his passing when it occured, since I was nearing graduation from high school. It really flew ...more
Beth Cato
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, biography
Jones has completed a fascinating book about a fascinating and complex man. I was born in 1980 and grew up with the Muppets. I was extremely upset when, at age 10, I found out that Jim Henson had abruptly died. For me, this book was an emotional read at times because I feel like the Muppets are such a big part of my life. I loved reading about Henson's imagination and creative process. The back-stories behind Sesame Street, the Muppet Show, Emmet Otter's Jug-band Christmas, and the John Denver ...more
Alex findingmontauk1
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: libby
I never once thought I would complete a biography on Jim Henson - but then I also never really figured there would be one. But why? The man is beyond talented, changed the TV industry, and was a huge success. His life just fascinates me. He was involved in just SO many things aside from Sam and Friends, The Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and The Dark Crystal. He has been a part of so many peoples' lives it is astounding. I think everyone who reads this will be filled with some happy ...more
Shannon Yarbrough
I'm not much of a biography reader but having grown up watching Sesame Street and The Muppets back when we only had 3 or 4 channels on a bunny-earred TV (and PBS was fortunately one of them), I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Henson's work. So I knew I wanted to read this bio!

Due out this year on what would be his 77th birthday, this book is definitely for the serious bio reader. There are not a ton of pictures (an insert and a picture at the beginning of each chapter), but you do
Schuyler Wallace
From his Mississippi upbringing to a world-hopping entrepreneur, Jim Henson had a wild and diverse life that led to fame and affluence as the amiable and imaginative creator of the Muppets. He is celebrated as possibly being the best puppiteer ever, and certainly the most creative. Brian Jay Jones tells Henson’s amazing story in this lengthy and detailed biography that was fully supported by Henson's family, employees at his various companies, and puppeteering colleagues. The details of his ...more
W.  Frazier
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio-completed
This book is a struggle. It is SO slow...and detailed...and long. The audio book version doesn't help. The narrator has a mild gentle cadence that adds to the slow factor. The details are exacting...Jim wears an orange tie and uses a number 2 pencil and sits in an Eames Chair. Just kidding...almost. And the author's hero-worship wears very thin. There's a giant "he should be right, even though he isn't" excuse for most all of Jim's failures. And there are some major contradictions that just ...more
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This isn't just a biography, it's a love letter for the creative process and how one man lived it whole-heartedly. I learned that Jim Henson was not perfect (my heart ached for his wife, Jane), but he possessed the kind of personality to make others aspire to be better people - and he believed in them, in return. Maybe we all catch some of his positivity through his Muppets...I know the world seems brighter after an episode of Veterinary Hospital.

I was also pleasantly surprised by how he broke
Christa Harmon
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
Jim Henson lived an incredible life, and I was sobbing by the end of the book because of how loved he was by those closest to him. This book was an amazing testament to his creativity and generosity with all he contributed to the world with Sesame Street and The Muppets and his creature workshop, and I loved that the audiobook had VOICES FOR THE MUPPETS. It was really great to learn about Jim Henson himself, and he seemed like someone that made the world a better place with his calm zen ...more
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book was impeccablly thorough and revealing. It's a 5 star book... But I hardly enjoyed it at all. I found it very interesting, but I'd rather that I never read it. Sometimes knowing too much about your heroes makes them into real people and the imagined version you had of them gets shattered.
I finished this crying and blowing my nose copiously in a coffee shop. Henson's work meant so much to me throughout my life. I was singularly obsessed with The Dark Crystal. But learning about what a creative, optimistic and caring man Henson truly was inspired me beyond words. A lovely biography of a creative genius.

"Sometimes, said writer Jerry Juhl, Jim set that example by appreciating life's absurdities. 'Jim had a sense of humor that just sorted out life,' said Juhl. 'And, you know, too
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones follows both the life of Jim Henson and that of his most famous creation, the Muppets. This book is highly detailed, yet lacking in specifics. It covers all of the major events in the lives of both Jim Henson and the Muppets. It provides behind the scenes looks into the process and technology behind bringing the Muppets to life on the silver screen. It examines Jim’s motivation behind entering the entertainment business and his passion for puppetry. ...more
Yong Hoon
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Jim Henson and all of his works that I've seen. He was an inspiration to me while growing up (even though I never watched Sesame Street as a child and grew up only on Muppet Babies), and I even did a middle school project about his work with Sesame Street. Thus, I was extremely excited when I found out that Brian Jay Jones was writing an official, long-form biography, especially since I had already read Jim Henson: The Works: The Art, the Magic, the Imagination over and over again, and ...more
Callie Rose Tyler
3 1/2 stars

Despite my absolute admiration for anything attached to the Henson name I found that my feelings about this biography were mixed. Let me begin by saying that I am a huge fan of everything Henson from Sesame Street and the Muppets to Fraggle Rock and the Storyteller. Labyrinth is my all time favorite movie and even though I did not realize it Jim Henson also oversaw another film that is close to my heart, The Witches. So despite my love for his work and appreciation of his genius I
Ken Bronsil
Oct 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jim Henson grew up when television was brand new. People were fascinated with being able to see something happening RIGHT AT THAT EXACT MOMENT hundreds or thousands of miles away. Madcap comedians like Milton Berle, Ernie Kovacs, and Sid Caesar were very frequent performers. So were puppets: the rigid-faced kind like Howdy Doody, or the somewhat flexible-faced kind like Ollie the dragon. The net effect: Henson was hooked. And he stayed enchanted and hooked for the rest of his life, moving from ...more
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Brian Jay Jones is the award-winning, bestselling biographer of some of the world's most iconic creative geniuses, from American writer Washington Irving and Muppet master Jim Henson, to Star Wars creator George Lucas and children's writer/artist Dr. Seuss.

Brian's biography of Jim Henson won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Biography of 2013, an honor he still appreciates every day.

A note from
“Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It's a good life, enjoy it.' - Jim” 17 likes
“When I was young," wrote Jim, "my ambition was to be one of the people who makes a difference in this world. My hope still is to leave this world a little bit better for my being here."

And he did.”
More quotes…