Masterful . . . Jones continually shows that Henson left the world a better place, which serves as the book's theme. . . . [Jim Henson] can be enjoyed by readers of more than one generation.
The story of the innovative puppeteer’s life that Muppets completists have been waiting for . . . The section on Henson’s death and funeral is one of the best parts of the book—moving and elegiac. I dare you not to cry.
[Brian Jay Jones’s] lucid style, wide-angle perspective, and deep immersion in Henson’s exuberantly innovative approach to puppets, television, and film make for a thoroughly compelling read. . . . With verve and insight, Jones illuminates the full scope of Henson’s genius, phenomenal productivity, complex private life, zeal to do good, and astronomical influence.
Booklist (starred review)
Brings to light a spirit of love, warmth, wit, and so much more.
The book’s most engrossing passages explore the extraordinary technical demands of creating naturalistic puppet spectacles in the age before computer graphics: ‘performing’ a Muppet was an intricate, almost contortionistic dance of two puppeteers crammed into a single sleeve. . . . A fascinating making-of documentary.
I loved it. Brian Jay Jones vividly portrays Jim’s journey, and also the intersecting journeys of his colleagues and friends. In spite of the fact that Jim and I worked together closely for many years, there were compartments of Jim’s life that I hadn’t known about before. I was completely involved and couldn’t put the book down. A tremendous job.
Dave Goelz, Muppet performer (Gonzo, Boober Fraggle, Bunsen Honeydew)
This is not only a superb biography for the Jim Henson and Muppet fans but also a sensitively written portrayal of a great and unique human being that will fascinate any and all readers.
Fran Brill, actress, Sesame Street performer
Brian Jay Jones, in this marvelous tale of struggle and triumph, tells us how and why Jim Henson and his Muppets have rightly assumed their places in the pantheon of American creative geniuses alongside Walt Disney and Mickey, and Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat.
Paul Reid, co-author of The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill—Defender of the Realm
Every Muppet fan has wondered who was behind the wide-mouthed, bug-eyed, furry creatures. Before now all we had was a credit line: Jim Henson. Now, with Brian Jay Jones’s riveting Jim Henson, we have a nuanced portrait of the puppeteer—part genius inspired by his Mississippi Delta roots and his Christian Science faith, part flawed human with tastes too rich in everything from his art and cars to his women—that brings new understanding of and empathy for an icon of American popular culture.
Larry Tye, author of Satchel and Superman
Jim Henson vibrantly delves into the magnificent man and his Muppet methods: It’s an absolute must-read!
Neil Patrick Harris
An exhaustive work that is never exhausting, a credit both to Jones’s brisk style and to Henson’s exceptional life . . . Brian Jay Jones tells the story of how Henson turned a quaint art form into an entertainment empire.
The New York Times
[A] sweeping portrait that is a mix of humor, mirth and poignancy.
Washington Independent Review of Books
Superlative . . . Jones draws upon new interviews with family and friends, reams of archival material, and Henson’s own journals to provide a nuanced study of a preternaturally gifted, relentlessly driven artist.
Los Angeles Review of Books
A meticulously researched tome chock-full of gems about the Muppets and the most thorough portrait of their creator ever crafted.
Jim was one of my closest friends. And yet I found out things about him in Jim Henson that were new to me. Brian Jay Jones has captured the layers of Jim’s genius and humanity, as well as the flaws that made Jim, like all of us, so delightfully imperfect. I thank Brian for giving Jim life again. This book has captured the spirit of Jim Henson.
Illuminating . . . As Jones expertly shows, Henson remained throughout his life an artist who was continuously in motion, conceiving, pitching, and managing multiple projects at once.
Consistently surprises . . . Highly readable and never long-winded (even at nearly 600 pages), Jim Henson joyously documents its subject’s knack for combining old-fashioned puppetry with the world’s newest entertainment medium to forge a kind of furry, felt-covered vaudeville.
The Wall Street Journal
This is a biography that earns the label definitive.
The Dallas Morning News
An insightful look at the gentle artist.
Compulsively readable . . . evocative . . . Much has been written about Henson—during his life and after—but nothing with the same sense of authority and access as Jim Henson: The Biography.
The A.V. Club
There are so many enjoyable aspects to this book that it’s hard to know where to start. . . . Jim Henson: The Biography is a fantastic story of a brilliant life cut short, but it can also be read as a blueprint for following your bliss.
Jim Henson: The Biography feels comprehensive without bogging down; it will keep readers turning pages and enjoying every scene from Henson’s life.
Sure to be savored for its exhaustive look at the late Muppet-master.
“Illuminating…As Jones expertly
shows, Henson remained throughout his life an artist who was continuously in
motion, conceiving, pitching, and managing multiple projects at once.”
readable and never long-winded (even at nearly six hundred pages), Jim Henson joyously documents its
subject’s knack for combining old-fashioned puppetry with the world’s newest
entertainment medium to forge a kind of furry, felt-covered vaudeville.”
“Brian Jay Jones tells the story of
how Henson turned a quaint art form into an entertainment empire that, at the
time of his death, the Walt Disney Company was negotiating to buy for $150
million. Jones had excellent access, and took full advantage of it, interviewing
Henson’s relatives (including his wife, Jane, who died in 2013) as well as his
many collaborators, from fellow puppeteer Frank Oz (the voice of Bert—Henson was
Ernie) to George Lucas, executive producer of Henson’s 1986 fantasy film Labyrinth. He dwelled in the vast Muppet
archive and pored over Henson’s diary. The result is an exhaustive work that is
never exhausting, a credit both to Jones’ brisk style and to Henson’s
York Times Book Review
“This is a biography that earns the
“Brian Jay Jones draws upon new interviews with family and
friends, reams of archival material, and Henson’s own journals to provide a
nuanced study of a preternaturally gifted, relentlessly driven artist…Jones
does a superlative job organizing a massive amount of information.”
Los Angeles Review of
“A heartwarming, endearing, and
joyful study…[Jones] gives us a real Jim Henson, not a saint to be sure, but a
man who devoted his creative genius to making the world a better place…In many
places it seems that Henson is doing the talking right off the pages. This book
is fast-paced like his life, zany like his characters, full of fun and laughter…It
is all here in this sweeping portrait that is a mix of humor, mirth, and
Independent Review of Books
“Sure to be savored for its
exhaustive look at the late Muppet-master.”
“Jones illuminates the full scope
of Henson’s genius, phenomenal productivity, complex private life, zeal to do
good, and astronomical influence.”
“There are so many enjoyable
aspects to this book that it’s hard to know where to start…Jim Henson: The Biography is a fantastic story of a brilliant life
cut short, but it can also be read as a blueprint for following your bliss.”
“Jones chronicles Jim Henson's
life, starting with a look at how Henson's teenage fascination with the
television industry in the early 1950s propelled him into an enduring journey
through the art of puppetry and, on a larger scale, a venue to share his love,
imagination, and humor with the world…All the while, Henson created and ran a
company built on teamwork, laughter, and abundant creativity…Verdict: Jones’ biography,
which draws on interviews with Henson’s family, friends, and colleagues as well
as company and family archives, brings to light a spirit of love, warmth, wit,
and so much more. It makes an enjoyable companion to Karen Falk’s Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal.”
“Masterful…Jones continually shows
that Henson left the world a better place, which serves as the book’s theme… [Jim Henson] can be enjoyed by readers of
more than one generation.”
“Jim Henson was clearly a creative
genius, and his legacy lives on in his beloved Muppets. Narrator Kirby Heyborne
is an excellent choice for this audiobook, as he seems to effortlessly conjure
Henson;s gentle manner of speech as well as the voices of the most famous
Muppets, such as Kermit and Rowlf. Additionally, Heyborne is clear and measured
while recounting Henson’s upbringing, his sometimes strained family life, and
the business partnerships that led to his creative endeavors, such as
advertising, his famous television characters, and several movies. Heyborne’s
creative narration is an asset for the biography of a man who was an
imaginative and productive creative force.”