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Muppet Performers Share What It Was Like To Work For Jim Henson


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The man who invented Kermit the Frog could not be cruel.

He was very patient, too:

Jim Henson is remembered as a visionary artist and the creator of the Muppets, but he was also the boss of hundreds of employees who called him “fearless leader.”

Dave Goelz, who performs Gonzo, recalled: “We had a reunion last year, and many past employees came. Over and over we heard them say it was the best job they ever had.” It almost seems over-the-top, but when you see tears well up in Frank Oz’s eyes at the funeral of his friend and mentor, it dispels all cynicism.

We intuitively know that Henson was a “good boss.” But how should we define a “good boss,” and better yet, how can we become one? Brian Henson has said of his father:

He taught me to identify a person’s talent, nurture that talent, and encourage them to look to themselves for a solution.

A good boss, like a good teacher, empowers his employees. This, though, is too easy to say and very hard to actually do. Most of us have egos that get in the way, worrying we will be thought of as too soft, slow, or indecisive. Henson’s agent said he “rarely spoke above a whisper.” Henson’s wife Jane said he was “so patient she sometimes want[ed] to kick him.”

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