On October 11, 1956, Jim (and his performing partner and future wife Jane Nebel) made his national television debut on NBC’s Tonight Show hosted by Steve Allen. They performed a bit developed for their local Washington show, Sam and Friends, featuring Kermit, in a blond wig, lip-synching to Rosemary Clooney’s hit recording of “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face.” In a surprising take on the song, Jim’s first Muppet monster, the skull-like Yorick, appears disguised with a happy face but then reveals his true identity and devours Kermit. Audiences loved it so much that Allen invited Jim and Jane to appear again on his Sunday night show less than four weeks later to reprise the bit. It was clearly a favorite for Jim. In 1962, he and Jane performed it at the Puppeteers of America annual festival. It was featured on The Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1967 and, on The Tonight Show the following year and on numerous other variety shows during the 1960s. Surprisingly, Jim did not use the bit on The Muppet Show.
In June 1965, 28-year-old Jim Henson started a written log of his activities in what became known as “The Red Book.” He noted down what had happened up until that point (deemed “Ancient History”) and then recorded anything that he felt was worth recording as single line journal entries until the end of 1988.
Selected curated entries courtesy of The Jim Henson Company Archives.