Friends, I have never hidden the fact that from an early age I was absolutely devoted to Jim Henson and the Muppets – perhaps I was just the right age, but thanks to Henson and his associates I learned to embrace my imagination. For quite a while I had thought about going into puppetry thanks to watching the brilliant and still entertaining The Muppet Show on TV. It was in fact Episode #207 with guest star Edgar Bergen that originally aired on October 7th of 1977 that made me decide to focus on becoming a ventriloquist.
That is a dream that would get derailed thanks to the terror of the clown doll scene in 1982’s Poltergeist – although my love of the work of Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Dave Goelz, and so many other puppeteers remained strong throughout my life. A few years back I was lucky enough to receive Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal which collected a majority of the pages from Jim’s Red Book. This was the title given to the notes in a log that Henson began in June of ’65 – recording in these books highlights in his career as well as what jobs or projects he was working on – all in single line entries.
A couple of years ago, one of my best friends was kind enough to share a discovery that he had made – Jim Henson had worked on a pilot for Johnny Hart and Brant Parker’s The Wizard of Id. A fact that the online version of Jim’s Red Book went into greater detail in a post from 2011:
“3/22/1969 – ‘Shoot “Wizard of Id” pilot’
Historical information provided by The Jim Henson Company Archivist:
In the summer of 1968, Jim Henson met Johnny Hart, the creator of the popular comic strips B.C. and The Wizard of Id. They discussed the idea of creating a television show based on The Wizard of Id that would combine puppets with an animated background. That fall, puppets were built, and Jim and his colleagues made a presentation to Hart’s publisher, the Publishers-Hall Syndicate. The response was positive and in early 1969, Jim shot a test pilot. Robert Reed of Publishers-Hall spent the next year and a half trying to sell the show to the networks as a series or as several specials. In September of 1970, ABC expressed interest in making a Wizard of Id feature film, but, by that time, Jim was busy with Sesame Street, the Tales of Muppetland specials, and his variety show appearances and decided not to take the idea any further.”
If you too love the work and legacy of Jim Henson, you must visit and enjoy the Jim’s Red Book site – although I believe it sadly stopped being updated 2014. Speaking of The Wizard of Id – while the pilot that Jim Henson worked on never led to a full series or film special – Chuck Jones directed a short featuring the voice talents of Paul Winchell (Wacky Races) and Don Messick (Scooby-Doo)!