Thursday, October 13, 2016

"My Favorite Item" Celebrating The Muppet Show's 40th Anniversary - Part 3!

To celebrate The Muppet Show's 40th Anniversary we continue our look at the Muppet communities favorite Muppet Show related items.

Chris Harris (The Muppet Cast)
Editor's Note: You may recall seeing Chris Harris in part one, but we wanted to included his second submission as well...

My second favorite item has a lot of sentimental value. It is my “The Muppet Show” lunchbox I carried in elementary school. I must have been around 5 or 6 when I got it.

James V Carroll

My first phone was this Kermit phone in the early 80's and I still have it today. It's a gorgeous sculpture that I've actually referenced for some of my legit work in Muppet products.

David Stephens

When I was asked to write about my favorite piece of “Muppet stuff,” it was a real challenge to choose just one. I have been a collector of Muppet memorabilia for over 30 years and the collection is quite extensive. Ultimately, it came down to one question: if the house was on fire, which item would you grab as you ran out the door? Answer?

Well, there's a story:
In 1990, I was a seventh grader at Foley Middle School and even more of a die-hard Muppet fan than now. I knew Muppet trivia like other kids knew baseball stats. And I was always thirsty to know more.

These were the days with no internet, no Muppet Wiki, no YouTube, no ToughPigs or Muppet Central, and the mom-and-pop video rental place in town had only three volumes of the Playhouse Video “Best of the Muppet Show” series (which I would check out incessantly).

Christmas break had come and gone and school was well into full second semester swing in February when I was tapped for the National Honor Society. For a sixth grader in rural Alabama, this was kind of a big deal because it meant your name would appear in the Mobile Press Register (as if I needed to date myself even further). And so it did appear and my parents gave me a gift one day as a kind of additional award.

I opened the wrapping paper to reveal a copy of “Of Muppets and Men: The Making of the Muppet Show,” written by Christopher Finch. This book instantly became my Bible and it was nearly impossible to pry it from my hands. I took it to school with me every day through the rest of my middle school years. Eventually, I had to fashion a butcher paper cover to (sort of) protect the dust jacket. I poured over the books amazing behind-the-scenes photographs as well as the text, which was a revelation as to how “The Muppet Show” was created. It also gave me glimpses of the performers whom I held in such very high regard.

This book was probably so important to me at that age because I was crossing over into a different mode of fandom. While still enchanted with the show at face value, my curiosity for how things were done was growing. How were the Muppets made? Who were the people who made them? How were certain effects accomplished? How many voices could Jerry Nelson perform? What did it actually look like below the camera lens? So many of these questions were answered in the pages of “Of Muppets and Men.”

Years later, my parents admitted to me that they had just used my acceptance into the National Honor Society as an excuse to give the book to me. They had apparently been wandering through a used book store after the holidays and found it. But Christmas had already passed and my birthday wasn't until July. They said they could not have waited that long to give it to me. I think they were as excited to give it as I was to receive it. So, this also illustrates the support I have always had from my parents to pursue my interests.

It's also a bit bittersweet to look at the inscription date my dad wrote inside the title page: “February 1990,” and know that in just a few short months, Jim Henson would die suddenly. Though I never met him, my interest in Jim's work and his person would never fade. “Of Muppets and Men” started my journey into becoming an even more serious Muppet fan as well as becoming a puppeteer in my own right.

Steve Swanson (The Muppet Cast)

I have two favorite items. First is the figure from 2004. It captures Jim in an appropriately fun and silly way, with his banjo, director’s chair, and even a little copy of Muppet magazine. The likeness for the figure is taken from his “Jim” puppet from the Muppet Show Country Trio. I especially love mine because it was given to me by a very dear friend who worked alongside Jim. 

The other is a plush Scooter, which used to be sold at the Studio One store outside MuppetVision 3D. This one looks quite a bit like Scooter, which isn’t always true for the plushes they sell there. And again, this one is special to me because of who gave it to me: Jane Hunt, Richard Hunt’s mother. It was sitting in a box in his bedroom for years and years, and she gave it to me as a memento when I visited her several years ago.

Kevin L. Williams

My favorite Muppet Show item(s) has to be the Fisher Price action figures from 1978. As a kid, I built my own cardboard Muppet Theater for them to perform in. I also let them cross-over to my Fisher Price Sesame Street Playset, but that's a story for another series of "favorite items."

Look for the conclusion of our series next week!

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