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The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson is a one-hour special that aired on CBS on November 21, 1990. The program was a tribute to Muppet creator Jim Henson, who had died earlier in 1990 due to toxic shock syndrome caused by a streptococcus infection, and featured characters from The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, and Sesame Street.
|The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson|
|Based on||The Muppets|
by Jim Henson
|Written by||Jerry Juhl|
|Directed by||Don Mischer|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producer||Ritamarie Peruggi|
Martin G. Baker
David J. Goldberg
|Running time||48 minutes|
|Production companies||Jim Henson Productions|
Walt Disney Television
Don Mischer Productions
|Distributor||Buena Vista Television|
|Original release||November 21, 1990|
Steve Whitmire has stepped in as Kermit the Frog is away traveling, leaving Fozzie Bear and the other Muppets in charge of the week's production number. On the day of the show, the Muppets receive a letter from Kermit informing them the production number is meant to pay tribute to Jim Henson. However, the group is unfamiliar with who Henson is. The rest of the special depicts the Muppets figuring out Jim Henson's relation to them, while simultaneously creating the production number.
Through the course of the special, interviews of several special guests are shown (including Carol Burnett, Ray Charles, John Denver, Steven Spielberg, Harry Belafonte and Frank Oz), where each guest recounts their personal experiences with Henson and his contributions to film, television, puppetry and philanthropy.
As the Muppets are nearing the presentation of their Jim Henson tribute number, Fozzie discovers some of Jim Henson's fan mail. One of the letters, which is addressed to Kermit, initially starts out cheerfully, but then reveals that Henson has died, much to the Muppets' shock. They take turns reading different letters from fans. Finally, Fozzie cancels the production number, deeming it improper for the occasion. Kermit's nephew Robin tries to convince Fozzie otherwise by breaking into "Just One Person" (a song which was featured in the 1977 Bernadette Peters episode of The Muppet Show). Eventually, the song becomes a large musical number with characters from Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock joining in. As the Muppets finish singing, Kermit arrives and congratulates the group on finding the proper way of honoring Henson. He then decides to enact Fozzie's original number (by saying they should do something silly to end it) and addresses the audience, thanking them and promising "more Muppet stuff because that's the way the boss would want it."
- Harry Belafonte - himself
- Carol Burnett - herself
- Ray Charles - himself
- John Denver - himself
- Jim Henson - himself (archive footage)
- Frank Oz - himself
- Steven Spielberg - himself
- Frank Oz - Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Bert, and Animal
- Jerry Nelson - Robin the Frog, Lew Zealand, Announcer, and Floyd Pepper
- Richard Hunt - Scooter and Janice
- Dave Goelz - Gonzo the Great, Beauregard and Zoot
- Steve Whitmire - Rizzo the Rat, Bean Bunny, Kermit the Frog, and Whoopie Cushion
- Kevin Clash - Clifford and Elmo
- Kathryn Mullen - Joy Buzzer and Mokey Fraggle
- Caroll Spinney - Big Bird
- Pam Arciero - Grundgetta
The set used for this special intentionally combines elements from the backstage set used in The Muppet Show and the control room set used in The Jim Henson Hour. The special was later syndicated alongside The Muppet Show.
The logo for the special incorporated characters from all three of Henson's most widely known productions, with Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Fozzie joined by Gobo Fraggle and a Doozer from Fraggle Rock, and Cookie Monster from Sesame Street.