It’s not just fun and games having a father who was a Muppet master — just ask Brian Henson, son of star puppeteer Jim Henson.
Jim Henson, the mastermind behind “The Muppets,” died in 1990 at age 53. His son Brian recently told Closer Weekly that life at home involved putting up with his dad's work habits.
“My dad was a workaholic,” he said. “I have four siblings, and for us to see our father, we would spend a lot of time hanging out in his studios and his workshop.”
But rest assure, the now-54-year-old isn't bitter. He’s grateful he had a powerful role model as a parent.
“He always had so many ideas he felt like he needed to do,” said Brian. “My dad would always say, ‘If something is not inspiring, then do something that is.’ He was an inspiration to everyone.”
Brian, who grew up playing with his father’s Muppets, maintained the family’s legacy. He currently serves as the chairman of the Jim Henson Company in Hollywood.
“The value of some of the puppets my brother John and I ruined in the sandbox when we were four or five years old is horrifying when I think back on it,” chuckled Brian.
But soon, he was creating his own characters.
“I made the first Muppet penguin,” he shared. “All of the kids in my family would make Muppets for fun. Some were terrible, and some my dad would go, ‘Oh, we’ll use this one!’ When [Miss Piggy puppeteer] Frank Oz used my penguin in one of ‘The Muppet Show’s’ musical numbers, I was so happy.”
Brian was 26 when Henson died suddenly. However, the love of Henson’s numerous fans of all ages that helped him cope with the loss.
“I had the unique comfort that the world knew him and was sad with me,” he said.
Brian admitted assuming control of Henson’s company was initially challenging. However, he was determined to keep his father’s dreams alive.
“For a few years, my life was so stressful, it was tricky,” he explained. “But I thought it was important, and I really wanted it to work. He inspired people to realize their weird and wonderful ideas. He came up with an original idea and presented it to the world, who embraced it because it was sweet and positive. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there. That’s what he was doing every minute he was alive. And he had fun doing it.”
Brian isn’t the only one finding magic in puppets. Henson’s daughter Heather Henson told Fox News back in 2017 she’s now a contemporary puppet artist. Still, Heather didn’t always think she would follow in her famous family’s footsteps.
“Because I grew up around the puppets, I guess there was a part of me that wanted to rebel,” said the 47-year-old at the time. “I wanted to do something a little different.”
Heather also revealed the patriarch of the family found joy in sharing his love of puppets with his children.
“We lived in England at one time, and I just remember as a kid being brought to these interesting landscapes and places where my dad found inspiration,” she said. “I remember going to his laboratory… I saw a lot of things that were happening in nature. Those were formative years for me, watching his research and development.”
Henson’s youngest child understands why his work is still adored by many.
“When it comes to the Henson brand, it really comes down to how well the puppets are made,” she said. “The puppets are really, really beautiful and they’re coming from the Henson shop… My father knew very well the power of puppetry to tell a story and how people could engage and connect to those characters. And he did a beautiful job on that… My dad really had so many ideas and different directions he was moving in… When I look at his portfolio, I really resonate with that.”