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Brian Henson: Misc



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Brian Henson directs Muppet Treasure Island
Henson and Sal Minella.

Brian Henson (b. November 30, 1962) is a director, producer, writer, performer, and Co-Chief Executive Officer of the Jim Henson Company.


Early life

Brian Henson was the third child of Jim and Jane Henson. As a child, he made several cameo appearances in Sesame Street segments, notably counting three peas, eight ping-pong balls, and various types of coins in the "Number Song Series." His first Sesame Street cameo, however, was in a film in which he and another boy play in the sand, pretending to be vehicles.[1]As he got older, he built the very first Muppet Penguin puppet for an episode of The Muppet Show.[2] During a summer break from high school, he assisted in the bicycle sequence from The Great Muppet Caper. He helped create and operate a special rigging device that was created to allow the Muppets to ride bicycles, since he was skilled in the use of marionette puppets. [3]

As a teenager, Brian Henson worked at Sesame Place one summer. One of his co-workers there was fellow future Muppeteer Bill Barretta. Henson recalled the experience:

I was just a typical 17 year-old. I wanted a summer job, I didn't want to live at home, and I was very into being independent and living by my own means. Basically, my father suggested, "Maybe you want to go work at Sesame Place." My sister had a friend whose family owned a boarding house in Princeton, New Jersey – so that was why I really went to do it. I was basically helping kids who were crying on the rides and cleaning up bathrooms and smiling a lot with everybody else who ran Sesame Place. I think Sesame Place really wasn't part of an ambitious move – I was just a kid with a summer job. But I did meet people who I've continued to know all my life; who are all very successful in the film industry... Which is really kind of weird, that you'd go to this small town amusement park and be picking up cigarette butts with three other guys, and then 20 years later they're all big shots in the film industry.[4]

During the 1980s, Henson wanted to make a name for himself and find work without his father's help. [5] He performed Jack Pumpkinhead in Return to Oz, operated special effects in Santa Clause: The Movie, and was a principal performer for the Audrey II puppet in Little Shop of Horrors, controlling mouth movement while others performed the lips and vines.

Creature Shop involvement

Most of Henson's work at The Jim Henson Company during the 1980s was in productions made by Jim Henson's Creature Shop. One of the few exceptions was The Christmas Toy, where he performed Cruiser.

In 1986, Brian Henson performed the voice and face movements of Hoggle in Labyrinth. He then performed the regular role of Dog on The StoryTeller and The StoryTeller: Greek Myths. He also performed occasionally on Dinosaurs.

Henson Company involvement

After the death of Jim Henson, Brian, along with his other siblings, inherited the Jim Henson Company.

In January 1991, at the age of 27, Brian Henson was named president, chairman, and chief executive officer of Henson.

In 1995, the Company created the Office of the President, in which Brian became President and CEO and longtime Henson executive Charlie Rivkin became President and Chief Operating Officer.

After the sale to EM.TV in 2000, Brian became chairman until he resigned in 2002. One year later, he led his siblings in the re-acquisition of the Henson Company from EM.TV.

Brian Henson has produced many Hensons series, and he directed select episodes of Mother Goose Stories, Dinosaurs, Muppets Tonight, and Farscape. He also directed The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island.

Muppet performing

Brian Henson became one of the core Muppet performers starting with Muppets Tonight, where his roles included Sal Minella, Seymour the Elephant, Nigel the Director, and Dr. Phil van Neuter. In the Behind-the-scenes feature on the Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story DVD, Brian Henson refers to Bill Barretta as his "performing partner", and together they performed such duos as Seymour and Pepe, and Johnny Fiama and Sal. Barretta also normally performed the hands of Dr. Phil van Neuter, and in Episode 103 of Muppets Tonight, Henson's character Sal had a run-in with Barretta's Bobo the Bear, in which Sal was hurled from the building for continually referring to Bobo as "butt-head".

Although Dr. Phil van Neuter has ocasionally been used since then, Henson's only character from that series to continue being used regularly is Sal, who has appeared in Muppets from Space, It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, The Muppets Wizard of Oz, and other productions.

At the 2001 live show, The Muppet Show Live, Brian Henson finally took over one of his father's characters, the Newsman. In It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, Henson took over two of Richard Hunt's characters, Scooter and Janice. Henson would perform these two characters again, along with the Newsman, in the video game Muppet Party Cruise.

Current projects

In 1999, Brian Henson appeared in a series of Introductions that were recorded especially for Muppet Show reruns on the Odyssey Network. He also recorded audio commentary for the original DVD releases of The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island, and he appeared in some features on the DVD releases Dinosaurs: The Complete First and Second Seasons and Dinosaurs: The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons (providing audio commentary on the later).

Brian Henson also recently directed Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars. He performed Augustus Pfiffle in Late Night Buffet with Augie and Del, a puppet-hosted, improvisational talk show, in which he has joined once again with Bill Barretta, who performed co-host Delbert Kastle. He is also involved with Puppet Up. In 2007, Barretta and Henson wrote, produced, and directed LOGO's Tinseltown, and they perform the puppets of Bobby Vegan and Samson Knight. He also directed and is executive producer of Sid the Science Kid.

Puppeteer credits

Jim Henson, Dog and Brian Henson.

Director credits

Brian Henson

Additional Credits

Awards & honors


  • Won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing in a Children's Program for Mother Goose Stories



  • Won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Program for: Muppets Tonight.

See also

External links


  1. Davis, Michael Street Gang', page 163
  2. Henson, Brian Brian Henson Introduction for Episode 304: Gilda Radner
  3. Finch, Christopher. Jim Henson: The Works. 1993.
  4. Plume, Ken.Interview with Ken Plume, August 2000
  5. Plume, Ken. Interview with Ken Plume, August 2000.
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