Monday, September 26, 2022

Neely-Dorsey: M is for Mississippi and Muppets

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DID YOU KNOW that Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, was born in Greenville, Mississippi on September 24, 1936?

He spent his early childhood in Leland, Mississippi before moving with his family to Hyattsville, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., in the late 1940s.

In 1954 while attending Northwestern High School, he began working for WTOP-TV, creating puppets for a Saturday morning children’s show called The Junior Morning Show. After graduating from high school, Henson enrolled at the University of Maryland, College Park, as a studio arts major, thinking he might become a commercial artist.

A puppetry class offered in the applied arts department introduced him to the craft and textiles courses in the College of Home Economics. He graduated in 1960 with a B.S. in home economics.

As a freshman, he had been asked to create Sam and Friends, a five-minute puppet show for WRC-TV. The characters on Sam and Friends were forerunners of Muppets, and the show included a prototype of Henson’s most famous character: Kermit the Frog.

Henson would remain at WRC for seven years from 1954 to 1961 In 1969, Joan Ganz Cooney and the team at the Children’s Television Workshop asked Henson to work on Sesame Street. Part of the show included a series of skits with Henson’s funny, colorful puppet characters. They became wildly popular.

In 1994, Kermit the Frog was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Miss Piggy will be a part of the museum’s permanent “American Stories” exhibition. There is also a small Jim Henson/Muppets Museum in Leland located on the locally well-known Deer Creek.

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patricia dorsey

Patricia Neely-Dorsey is the author of two books of poetry, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life In Poems and My Magnolia Memories and Musings-In Poems. Through her poems, the author hopes to protect, preserve and promote the rich cultural history and heritage of her state and region along with providing more positive images than all of the negative images usually portrayed. Patricia lives in Tupelo with her husband James, son Henry and Miniature Schnauzer, Happy. The author has been named a Goodwill Ambassador for the state by Governor Phil Bryant. Her slogan is “Always, Always Celebrating the South and Promoting a Positive Mississippi ” Her website is www.patricianeelydorsey.com and her email is magnoliagirl21@yahoo.com.

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