It’s always a near miracle when someone achieves a dream the first time around. We’ve seen it millions of times in the One Man’s Dream feature short. Walt Disney went bankrupt a few times early on in his career, and lost rights to his first popular character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. “It is good to have a failure while you are young because it teaches you so much,” Walt reflected later. And he was right. If he hadn’t lost Oswald, Mickey Mouse may not have been born.
Similarly, Jim Henson faced some obstacles as well, even after he already had established success with Sesame Street. When he went to the TV networks with an idea for a show geared toward adults and starring the Muppets, he was faced with that ugly two-letter word: no. It seems sort of silly that networks wouldn’t trust the guy to deliver after he took children’s television by storm. Even when the Muppets actually came first… it wasn’t until the head of Britain’s Associated Communications Corporation, Lord Lew Grade, heard from his colleagues of Jim’s desire to create The Muppet Show. The plan was for Lord Grade to produce the show, and then it would be syndicated to the American networks.
According to the documentary, Henson’s Place, Lord Grade, sitting behind a huge desk puffing on his cigar, said the two had no contracts on the deal – only a handshake. He only asked that Jim film the show in London, and before long, they had stars begging to make guest appearances on the show… they almost didn’t have room for everyone!
As if catapulting The Muppet Show into existence was not enough, Lord Grade also agreed to produce two of Jim’s Muppet film ventures when the idea first came up. Talk about a glass slipper. Without Lord Grade, there may be no Rainbow Connection. Can you fathom that? He later went on to present The Great Muppet Caper and The Dark Crystal.
It just goes to show what can happen when you have someone in your corner. And who knows? Maybe that individual will express his appreciation by having Orson Welles play a character like you in his first movie. Doesn’t get better than that. (Although, it would be pretty awesome if Bunsen Honeydew’s creation was inspired by Lord Grade… sadly, only a Muppet myth!)
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Be sure to also check out Dap’s Magic for their own Muppet Monday!