11/23/1973 – ‘Julie Andrews Special airs.’

Julie Andrews had a deep relationship with the Muppets starting in 1973, and Jim’s work with her was an important step toward his own series. Jim and his Muppets taped an appearance on The Julie Andrews Hour in Los Angeles in February 1973, and his trip to London the following November to tape Julie Andrew’s television special, Julie on Sesame Street, brought Jim to the attention of Lord Lew Grade who would back The Muppet Show three years later. In March 1975, the Muppets taped an episode of The Julie Andrews Show and that summer, taped another appearance on her special, One to One. In 1977, the Muppets taped another appearance for her regular show, and a week later, Andrews taped her guest starring appearance on The Muppet Show.

All of these collaborations were a direct result of the successful work for Julie on Sesame Street. There was a real rapport between the Sound of Music star and Jim’s characters. Andrews interacted seamlessly with Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, and especially Kermit the Frog. Kay Gardella, previewing the program in New York’s Daily News, said, “This warm, ingratiating hour, full of clever ingenious material, lifts the spirit, touches the heart and soothes whatever savage beasts might be lying dormant in one’s breast.” He was particularly taken with the medley of Broadway hits which took advantage of the combined talents and experience of both star and guests. He said, “The best number of all features the Cookie Monster, who eats everything in sight, dueting with Julie on ‘Hey Big Spender,’ from ‘Sweet Charity.’ As she sings, he eats her shoes and finally, even a can of TNT she places before him and a lighted candle.” The natural chemistry was further demonstrated when Cookie Monster presented Andrews with a rose which she promptly ate. “You’re my kind of girl!” Cookie exclaimed.

For The Muppet Show, Andrews went above and beyond the usual guest contribution to the entertainment. Beyond just performing on the program, Andrews composed a song especially for Kermit, “When You Were A Tadpole.” Having worked together so many times, they had a special connection – when the director asked them to redo a take, Andrews apologized. Kermit quickly said, “No, it wasn’t you. It was me. I forgot the lines.” She turned to him and, looking him straight in the eyes, replied, “Thank goodness for that. You’re human after all.”

Press promotion for Julie on Sesame Street in the Pittsburgh Press, November 18, 1973.

Jim’s UK work permit for his guest appearance on Julie on Sesame Street.

Julie Andrews on The Muppet Show, 1977.

Read more from Jim Henson’s Red Book in Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal available from Chronicle Books.

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