3/31/1964 – ‘Filmed McGarry’s Sausage in Toronto.’

In 1964, Jim was contacted by the Montreal office of Young & Rubicam on behalf of their client La Bell Fermiere, makers of McGarry Sausage. He was hired to make eleven eight-second ID commercials along the same vein as those first made for Wilkins Coffee. Instead of Wilkins and Wontkins, however, the McGarry spot would feature a grocer, played by Onky, a live-hand puppet developed in 1962 for On-Cor Frozen Foods, and a hapless customer played by Kermit.

Jim offered 30 different scripts, including two that he and Jerry Juhl wrote especially for McGarry. Over the course of the 88 seconds that made up the eleven commercials that were chosen to be filmed, Kermit was crushed by a giant ball, woken by gun shot, hit with a raw egg, made to disappear, electrocuted, threatened with a meat cleaver, bitten, blown up, clubbed, and finally shot. Somehow, it was hilarious and struck a chord with customers. The commercials aired in English for a year and were such a success that the ad agency made a second deal with Jim to rerun the spots in 1968 with some dubbed into French.

Onky and Kermit with overlay showing how they could sell McGarry Sausage, 1964.

Jim and Jerry Juhl’s script for the McGarry Sausage commercials with Jim’s sketch, 1964.

Jim and Jerry Juhl’s script for the McGarry Sausage commercials with Jim’s sketch, 1964.

Jim and Jerry Juhl’s script for the McGarry Sausage commercials with Jim’s sketch, 1964.

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

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