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Jim Henson, Muppets, Get Stamps of Approval; Kermit the Frog, Celebrating 50 Years in Entertainment, Emcees Ceremony

   Jim Henson and the Muppets Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the television debut of Jim Henson’s famous alter ego, Kermit the Frog, this stamp pane includes eleven stamps: Jim Henson, Kermit the Frog; Sam the Eagle; Statler and Waldorf; Animal; Rowlf the Dog; Fozzie Bear; Miss Piggy; The Swedish Chef; Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant, Beaker; and The Great Gonzo and Camilla the Chicken. (PRNewsFoto)

WASHINGTON, DC USA 11/05/2004
    LOS ANGELES, Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Jim Henson and his beloved Muppets
were immortalized on United States postage stamps today in Los Angeles at the
Academy of the Television Arts & Sciences (http://www.emmys.tv), the same
organization that bestowed several Emmy(R) Awards upon the extraordinary
artist and visionary, and also inducted him into the Television Academy Hall
of Fame.  The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony for the Jim Henson: The
Man Behind the Muppets commemorative stamp sheet coincides with the 50th
anniversary of Henson's most famous Muppet, Kermit the Frog, who emceed the
event.  The 11 stamp pane of 37-cent First-Class stamps is available in North
Hollywood, CA, today and nationwide tomorrow.
    (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20041105/DCF007-i )
    "The strong legacy of family fun Jim Henson created still resonates around
the world," said Anita Bizzotto, U.S. Postal Service Chief Marketing Officer
and Executive Vice President, who dedicated the stamps.  "When people see the
stamps, they will be a reminder of the man who taught us to not take human
flaws so seriously -- a reminder that one person can make 'a difference in
this world,' " she said, referring to Henson's quotation on the stamp selvage.
    Joining Bizzotto in dedicating these stamps were Lisa and Brian Henson,
children of Henson and Co-Chief Executive Officers of The Jim Henson Company
(http://www.henson.com); Dick Askin, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer,
Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (http://www.emmys.tv); and, Kermit the
Frog and Miss Piggy (http://www.muppets.com).
    Lisa Henson characterized the stamps as fitting her father's sense of
humor.  "We are honored that the U.S. Postal Service chose to recognize our
father's legacy with this fun and irreverent stamp collection -- a perfect
reflection of his inspired silliness and creativity."
    Her brother Brian welcomed the stamps as a homage to his father's work.
"Our father created wonderful characters that continue to be loved around the
world.  These stamps are also a tribute to his millions of fans who continue
to support his work and believe in his vision," added Brian Henson.
    Kermit the Frog viewed the stamps from the Muppets' perspective.  "On
behalf of the Muppets, it is a great honor to be featured on our own set of
stamps," said Kermit the Frog.  "These commemorative stamps couldn't have come
at a better time -- to celebrate my 50th Anniversary, I'm hitting the road
next month on a 50-stop World Tour.  I'll need to send a lot of letters home
to Miss Piggy if I want to stay in her good graces!"  The World Tour will
begin October 14 in Kermit, TX.
    The Television Academy's Dick Askin testified to Henson's legacy.  "Jim
Henson was a master storyteller and technical innovator who created
unforgettable characters and entertainment," commented Askin.  "He left us far
too soon, but it's a testament to his unique talents that we still are
captivated by his whimsical creations."

    Uniquely Designed Autographed Stamps
    This pane includes a 1986 Norman Seeff photograph of Henson accompanied by
his visionary quote: "When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the
people who made a difference in this world.  My hope is to leave the world a
little bit better for my having been there."
    Ten additional stamps depict 13 famous Muppet characters: Kermit the Frog;
Sam the Eagle; Statler and Waldorf; Animal; Rowlf the Dog; Fozzie Bear; Miss
Piggy; Swedish Chef; Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant, Beaker; and the
Great Gonzo and Camilla the Chicken.
    When applied to a white envelope, each of the individually photographed
Muppet stamps appears to burst through.  This effect was created by
photographing the characters and torn white paper separately to enhance
highlights and shadows.  The two images were merged and digitally enhanced to
produce a fun and lighthearted stamp sheet.
    The back of each stamp sheet features humorous autographed notes from each
of the Muppet characters.  The reverse of Miss Piggy's stamp reads, "Moi is
thrilled ... for all those lucky people who will get your letter with Moi's
gorgeous face on the envelope.  Don't even think of canceling moi, sweetie!
Kissy, Kissy (signed Miss Piggy)."

    The Man Behind the Muppets
    Henson was born in Greenville, MS on Sept. 24, 1936.  He moved to Maryland
when he was in the fifth grade.  In 1955, as a student at the University of
Maryland, his own five-minute show, "Sam and Friends," made its debut on WRC-
TV, an NBC affiliate in Washington, DC.  The show featured a large cast of
characters Henson dubbed "Muppets," including a green puppet named Kermit who
would later become the world-famous Kermit the Frog (see attached Henson bio).
    His creations continue to delight children and adults alike.  And his
legacy continues through The Jim Henson Company which continues to entertain
audiences worldwide through creative excellence, technological achievements
and inspired silliness with a wide range of television and film projects.
    To see the commemorative stamps and other images from the 2005
Commemorative Stamp Program, visit the Postal Store at
http://www.usps.com/shop and click on Release Schedule in the Collectors
Corner.
    Current U.S. stamps, as well as a free comprehensive catalog, are
available by toll-free phone order at 1-800-STAMP-24.  A wide selection of
stamps, other philatelic items, and licensed products are available at the
Postal Store at http://www.usps.com/shop.  Beautifully framed prints of
original stamp art for delivery straight to the home or office are available
at http://www.postalartgallery.com.

    How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark
    Customers have 30 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail.
They may purchase new stamps and at the Postal Store Web site at
http://www.usps.com/shop, by telephone at 800-STAMP-24 and at their local Post
Office. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the
envelopes (to themselves or others), and place in a larger envelope addressed
to:

        JIM HENSON THE MAN BEHIND THE MUPPETS STAMPS
        POSTMASTER
        7035 N LAUREL CANYON BLVD
        NORTH HOLLYWOOD CA 91615-9998

    After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will
return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark.
All orders must be postmarked by October 27, 2005.

    How to Order First-Day Covers
    Stamp Fulfillment Services also offers first-day covers for new stamp
issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-
day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is
offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog.  Customers may request a free
catalog by calling 800-STAMP-24 or writing to:

        INFORMATION FULFILLMENT
        DEPT 6270
        US POSTAL SERVICE
        PO BOX 219014
        KANSAS CITY MO 64121-9014

    Philatelic Products
    There are six philatelic products available for this stamp issue:

      * First-Day Cover (Full Pane) $6.57 (Item 458862).
      * Canceled Full Pane $6.57 (Item 458864).
      * Digital Color Postmark Random Single Cover $1.50 (Item 458865).
      * Digital Color Postmark (Set of 11 Covers) $16.50 (Item 458868).
      * Mailing the Muppets (Stationery Set) $16.95 (Item 458876).
      * Cancellation Keepsake (FP w/CP Random Single) $5.57 (Item 458899).

    These products will be available while supplies last at postal stores,
online at http://www.usps.com, and by telephone at 800-STAMP-24.

    Since 1775, the Postal Service has connected friends, families, neighbors
and businesses by mail.  It is an independent federal agency that visits 142
million homes and businesses every day and is the only service provider
delivering to every address in the nation.  The Postal Service receives no
taxpayer dollars for routine operations, but derives its operating revenues
solely from the sale of postage, products and services.  With annual revenues
of more than $69 billion, it is the world's leading provider of mailing and
delivery services, offering some of the most affordable postage rates in the
world.  The Postal Service delivers more than 46 percent of the world's mail
volume -- some 206 billion letters, advertisements, periodicals and packages a
year -- and serves seven million customers each day at its 37,000 retail
locations nationwide.


                             Jim Henson Biography

    Jim Henson, an extraordinary artist and visionary, invented unique worlds
and characters that remain just as vivid, original and fresh today as when
they were created.  A television pioneer, an innovator in puppetry, technology
and visual arts, and a performer who literally brought to life some of the
most memorable characters ever-including the world's most famous frog,
Kermit(TM), Jim Henson's impact on entertainment, education and culture
continues to this day.
    Born September 24, 1936 in Greenville, Mississippi, Jim was the second son
of Paul and Betty Henson. Jim spent his early years in Leland, MS where his
father worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Throughout his youth,
Jim had an interest in art and, later, television. He was particularly close
to his maternal grandmother, an avid painter, quilter, and needleworker, and
he visited her often. She was supportive of Jim's artistic efforts and
encouraged him to use his imagination and to take delight in the world around
him.
    When Jim was in the fifth grade, the Henson family moved to Maryland.
There Jim, often with his older brother Paul, experimented with a variety of
artistic techniques -- experiments which eventually led Jim to the very latest
visual media, television.  In 1954, while still in high school, Jim began his
television career with performing puppets on a local Washington, DC Saturday
morning program on WTOP-TV.  The following year, as a freshman at the
University of Maryland, he was given his own twice-daily, five-minute show,
Sam and Friends, on the local NBC affiliate, WRC-TV.  Jim along with his
assistant, fellow University of Maryland student and future wife, Jane Nebel,
introduced many Muppet mainstays-music, snarky humor and innovative technical
tricks (such as eliminating the puppet stage and using the television itself
as the proscenium). Perhaps most memorably, the show featured an early version
of Kermit the Frog.
    The success of Sam and Friends led to guest appearances on such national
network programs as The Steve Allen Show, The Jack Paar Show and Today.  Jim
also began making hundreds of humorous commercials for sponsors throughout the
country.  In 1961, as Muppets, Inc. grew, Jim and Jane brought on puppeteer
and writer Jerry Juhl, who would become one of Jim's major collaborators.  The
demands of national television appearances brought Jim and his family to New
York in 1963.  With weekly appearances on Today and an ever-growing list of
commercial clients, Jim sought out the talents of master puppet builder, Don
Sahlin and young puppeteer, Frank Oz.  Together, they helped develop the
Muppets' first nationally known character, Rowlf the Dog, who appeared
regularly on The Jimmy Dean Show from 1963 to 1966.  Having established a
group of talented collaborators, including producer David Lazer, Jim continued
to pursue his career in puppetry and filmmaking. Between 1964 and 1969, Jim
produced several experimental films including the award-winning Time Piece,
Youth '68, and The Cube.  These projects expanded Jim's knowledge of film
techniques, leading to greater innovations with the Muppets.
    In 1966, a public television producer named Joan Ganz Cooney, began work
on a ground-breaking educational children's television show called Sesame
Street that would premiere in 1969. Based on Jim's creative reputation, Cooney
asked him to create a family of characters to populate Sesame Street.  These
characters -- Ernie and Bert, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Cookie Monster, and of
course the 8-foot-2 Big Bird -- continue to entertain and educate today, more
than 35 years later.  Working with Children's Television Workshop (later
renamed Sesame Workshop) on Sesame Street, Jim also had the opportunity to
continue experimenting with film techniques.  Together with his talented team,
Jim produced more than two dozen live action and animated shorts that are
still teaching children how to count, learn the alphabet and master other
educational concepts.
    Sesame Street demonstrated the Muppets' undeniable appeal to children, but
Jim strongly believed these characters could entertain a much wider family
audience.  After years of trying to sell the idea for The Muppet Show in the
U.S., Jim finally received backing from a London-based television producer,
Lord Lew Grade.  In 1975 production began at Grade's ATV Studios, and soon the
world was introduced to a new family of unforgettable characters, such as Miss
Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Animal (performed by Frank Oz); The Great Gonzo
(performed by Dave Goelz); Scooter (performed by Richard Hunt); Lew Zealand
(performed by Jerry Nelson); and Rizzo the Rat (performed by Steve Whitmire).
Hosted by Kermit the Frog, accompanied by the musical meanderings of Doctor
Teeth and the Electric Mayhem Band, the Muppets were joined each week by an
international pantheon of guest stars, from Gene Kelly and Rudolph Nureyev to
Steve Martin and John Cleese.  The success of The Muppet Show naturally led to
Hollywood, where the Muppets starred in six feature films: The Muppet Movie,
The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppet Christmas
Carol, Muppet Treasure Island and most recently Muppets From Space.
    During the 1980s, in addition to making Muppet movies, Jim brought two
remarkably original fantasy films to the big screen, The Dark Crystal and
Labyrinth.  Inspired by the exquisite and intricate artwork of British
illustrator Brian Froud, these films challenged Jim to create new kinds of
three-dimensional characters with advanced movement abilities.  In development
for five years, The Dark Crystal utilized the talents of scores of designers,
builders, technicians, and performers from across the globe.  The result: a
phenomenal showcase of puppetry and animatronics.  Jim and Brian Froud
collaborated again on the feature film, Labyrinth, which was produced by
George Lucas, and starred David Bowie and future Oscar(R)-winner Jennifer
Connelly.  Like The Dark Crystal before it, Labyrinth gave Jim a unique
opportunity to take animatronics and performance to a new level.  The multi-
talented staff that helped create these two films formed the basis for what is
now known as Jim Henson's Creature Shop.  Founded in 1979, with offices in
London and Los Angeles, Jim Henson's Creature Shop continues to set industry
standards in animatronics, performance and performance technology.
    Throughout the 1980's, Jim also created memorable television series and
specials, including: Fraggle Rock, Muppet Babies, Jim Henson's The
Storyteller, and Jim Henson's Greek Myths.

    *  Fraggle Rock's Fraggles, Gorgs and Doozers sang songs celebrating
       friendship, brotherhood and peace, and was one of the world's first
       international television co-productions.  The show continues to have a
       devoted fan following around the world.

    *  Muppet Babies was awarded four consecutive Emmys(R) for "Outstanding
       Animated Program."

    *  Jim Henson's The Storyteller and Jim Henson's Greek Myths were two
       original series conceived by Jim to convey the metaphoric richness of
       ancient stories.  Based on authentic folk tales and myths, many of the
       episodes were written by Academy Award(R)-winning writer/director
       Anthony Minghella.  With strong literary richness and magical visual
       effects and animatronics by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, Jim Henson's
       The Storyteller and Jim Henson's Greek Myths are a rare combination of
       ancient tradition and modern technological artistry.

    *  Jim's last project was MuppetVision 3*D, a short multi-media film and
       interactive attraction, which he directed and which currently runs at
       custom-made theaters at Disney/MGM Studios theme park at the Walt
       Disney World Resort in Florida, and at Disney's California Adventure in
       Anaheim, California.

    On May 16, 1990, after a brief illness, Jim Henson died in New York City.
With his keen ability for drawing together a strong team of performers,
artists, and collaborators who shared his vision and creativity, Jim ensured
that his work and unique creative vision would continue.  Through The Jim
Henson Company, his work continues to captivate and entertain a global
audience.


SOURCE U.S. Postal Service


Related links:
  • http://www.usps.com
  • http://www.emmys.tv
  • http://www.henson.com
  • http://www.muppets.com
    Photo Notes:http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20041105/DCF007-i
    PRN Photo Desk photodesk@prnewswire.com