Muppets Creator Jim Henson Honored on 75th Birthday

11:22 AM PST 09/24/2011 by THR staff
The Jim Henson Co.
Kermit the Frog in "Rainbow Connection"

A Mississippi town celebrates the legendary puppeteer by renaming a bridge where he played as a kid "The Rainbow Connection."

A Mississippi town is paying tribute to Muppets creator Jim Henson on what would have been his 75th birthday Saturday.

The town of Leland is renaming the Broad Street Bridge over Deer Creek "The Rainbow Connection," after the 1979 film. The movie also featured a song of the song name, sung by Kermit the Frog -- whom Henson voiced for many years -- while he's sitting on a log in a swamp.

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Dot Turk, who wrote a book on the history of Leland, told the Associated Press that Henson played and lived along that creek until age 12, when his family moved to Maryland.

"We in Leland know in our hearts that is Deer Creek," added Ashley Zepponi, project director of the Jim Henson Boyhood 20th Anniversary Celebration, adding that "it is also where Jim played and spent countless hours as a child."

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The Henson estate has granted approval for the renaming of the bridge, whose span has been painted "Kermit green." Zepponi added that plans are to ultimately refurbish the bridge and add a sculpture at the site.

The celebration, which gets under way Saturday afternoon, also marks the 20th anniversary of the Jim Henson Museum, which includes a tableau honoring Kermit, photographs from the Henson family album and various Muppet memorabilia.

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Among the event's speakers will be Fran Brill, one of the original puppeteers on Henson's Sesame Street and the first female puppeteer hired by Henson, who died in 1990 at age 53.

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