Friday, March 18, 2011

Jim Henson: Commercial success!

Jim Henson's first television show, Sam and Friends, was extremely popular in the Washington, DC area and brought his work to the attention of a local coffee company. In 1957, Jim was hired to make a series of 10-second, funny commercials featuring his creations. He eventually produced more than 200 commercials for this client alone.

By the time the Hensons moved to New York in 1963, these commercials and others for regional markets had gained national attention, and a wide variety of companies hired Jim to produce their advertisements throughout the '60s. Working on ads for such diverse products as Linit Fabric Finish spray, Gleem toothpaste, and Royal Crown Cola, Jim and colleagues Frank Oz, Jerry Juhl, Don Sahlin and Jerry Nelson had the opportunity to develop various characters and situations that would evolve and reappear in different forms in later productions.

The first full-body character, Delbert the LaChoy Dragon, was built for a commercial and led the way to the creation of other full-body characters such as Big Bird, and Sweetums. Other pieces featureda hairy monster with a voracious appetite, setting the stage for the creation of what was no doubt a close relation—Cookie Monster.

Below are a few of Jim's early commercials. Watch and enjoy!