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The Museum presents Celebrating Fifty Years of Jim Henson and the Muppets

Friday, September 30, 2005

New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA—The Museum of Television & Radio will present the screening series Celebrating Fifty Years of Jim Henson and the Muppets in New York and Los Angeles from December 2, 2005, to January 26, 2006.  A gallery exhibit, The Muppets Say Cheese—The Photography of John E. Barrett, will run concurrently at the New York Museum location. 

Fifty years ago Jim Henson and his future wife Jane introduced a menagerie of quirky and lovable puppets on a local Washington, DC, television show. This five-minute-long series, entitled Sam and Friends, was the humble beginning of what would expand into a universe of inventive and unforgettable characters that earned global recognition and appreciation for Henson and the Muppets. This year, one of the United States's highest honors was bestowed on them, when they received their own postage stamps.

To celebrate their 50th anniversary, this winter the Museum presents a two-month retrospective of specials, episodes, and clips featuring Kermit the Frog and the rest of the Muppet gang, as well as some of Henson's less well-known creations in such programs as The Great Santa Claus Switch, which has not been seen since its original airing in 1970. There are also highlights of Jim Henson and the Muppets guest starring on various variety and talk shows over the years, Christmas-themed specials, a Muppet spoof of Hollywood classics, a visit to Walt Disney World, and one of the rarest of all Muppet projects, the unaired Tales of the Tinkerdee

Celebrating Fifty Years of Jim Henson and the Muppets will screen in New York Tuesdays through Sundays at 12:30 p.m., and in Los Angeles Wednesdays through Sundays at 3:00 p.m. The screening schedule is as follows:

December 2 to 8:

•John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together

The first of two holiday specials teaming country singer John Denver with the Muppets, features renditions of Yuletide favorites like "Deck the Halls" and "The Twelve Days of Christmas." (1979)

•Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

One of Henson's most ambitious efforts of the time presents a more detailed and naturalistic puppet world than ever before in this story of an otter who foils the evil Riverbottom Gang. Kermit the Frog appears as your host. (1977)

December 9 to 22 (two weeks):

The Great Santa Claus Switch (Not seen since 1970!)

This collaboration between Jim Henson and Ed Sullivan stars Art Carney in a dual role, playing both Santa and the wicked magician who schemes to replace him. This special has not been seen since its original December 1970 airing. (1970)

Fraggle Rock: The Bells of Fraggle Rock

As the Fraggles prepare to celebrate their annual Festival of the Bells, Gobo begins to question the meaning behind the holiday. (1984)

December 23 to 29:

•A Muppet Family Christmas

The entire Muppet gang (as well as the cast of Sesame Street) come together for a musical celebration at Fozzie Bear's farm. (1987)

•The Christmas Toy

When no humans are around, a room full of toys spring to life in this story of a stuffed tiger named Rugby who believes he is the most important toy of all. Hosted by Kermit the Frog. (1986)

December 30 to January 5: 

•Jim Henson Drops By: A Compilation of Guest Appearances by Henson and His Characters

This package of clips features Henson and the Muppets making appearances on The Mike Douglas Show, The Steve Allen Show, Cher, I Love Liberty, and Pure Goldie, among others. Also included are scenes from the very first Henson-Muppet series, Sam and Friends.

•Tales of the Tinkerdee (never aired!)

One of the rarest of all Muppet programs is this unaired pilot for a series of fairy tale spoofs hosted by minstrel Kermit. (1962)

January 6 to 12:

The Muppet Musicians of Bremen

The famous children's story is shifted from Germany to a hamlet in Louisiana as four down-and-out critters bond by becoming traveling musicians. (1972)

•The Jim Henson Hour: Secrets of the Muppets

This episode of Henson's imaginative omnibus series offers a rare and detailed behind-the-scenes look at how the Muppets are brought to life. (made in 1989; aired in 1992)

January 13 to 19:

•The Jim Henson Hour: The Ratings Game: MuppetTelevision/Miss Piggy's Hollywood

This comical episode of Henson's weekly series pokes fun at the ratings system and follows Miss Piggy on her "insider's" tour of Hollywood. (1989)

•The Muppets Go to the Movies

Lily Tomlin and Dudley Moore join the Muppets in affectionately spoofing such film classics as Casablanca and Gone with the Wind. (1981)

January 20 to 26:

The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show

The inimitable Miss Piggy stars in her first (and only) variety special, playing host to John Ritter, George Hamilton, and Andy Kaufman (as Tony Clifton). (1982)

•The Muppets at Walt Disney World

While on their way to a frog festival in a nearby swamp, the Muppets take a detour and end up in the Florida theme park where they are pursued by a determined security guard (Charles Grodin). (1990)

In addition to the screenings, in New York the Museum will present The Muppets Say Cheese—The Photography of John E. Barrett, on display from December 6, 2005, to April 30, 2006. This gallery exhibit explores the photographic legacy of Jim Henson's magical creations, as seen through the lens of still photographer, John E. Barrett. Images will include selections from the classic "Kermitage Collection" and the popular Muppet parody posters. The gallery exhibit is made possible by grants from The Jane Henson Foundation and The Jim Henson Legacy.

Admission to Celebrating Fifty Years of Jim Henson and the Muppets and The Muppets Say Cheese—The Photography of John E. Barrett is included with the Museum's suggested contribution: Members free; $10.00 for adults; $8.00 for senior citizens and students; and $5.00 for children under fourteen.  Admission is free in Los Angeles.

MUPPET, MUPPETS, and the Muppets Characters are registered trademarks of The Muppets Holding Company, LLC.  All rights reserved. © The Muppets Holding Company, LLC. (

Sesame Street ® and associated characters, trademarks, and design elements are owned and licensed by Sesame Workshop. ©2005 Sesame Workshop.  All Rights Reserved. (

JIM HENSON'S mark and logo, characters, and elements are trademarks of The Jim Henson Company. All rights reserved. ( and The Jim Henson Legacy at

The Museum of Television & Radio, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, is a nonprofit organization founded by William S. Paley to collect and preserve television and radio programs and advertisements and to make them available to the public. Since opening in 1976, the Museum has organized exhibitions, screening and listening series, seminars, and education classes to showcase its collection of over 100,000 television and radio programs and advertisements. Programs in the Museum's permanent collection are selected for their artistic, cultural, and historic significance.

The Museum of Television & Radio in New York, located at 25 West 52 Street in Manhattan, is open Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 6:00 p.m. and until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays. The Museum of Television & Radio in California, located at 465 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, is open Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 5:00 p.m. Both Museums are closed on New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Suggested contribution: Members free; $10.00 for adults; $8.00 for senior citizens and students; and $5.00 for children under fourteen. Admission is free in Los Angeles. The public areas in both Museums are accessible to wheelchairs, and assisted listening devices are available. Programs are subject to change. You may call the Museum in New York at (212) 621-6800, or in Los Angeles at (310) 786-1000. Visit the Museum's website at