Walt Disney and Jim Henson : The Lives and Legacies of the Men Behind America's Favorite Cartoons
Overview - *Includes pictures *Includes their own quotes about their lives and careers *Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading When it comes to the entertainment world and movie business, few names are as recognizable as Walt Disney, a versatile writer, producer, director, artist and voice actor who literally turned his name into a billion dollar business. Read more...
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More About Walt Disney and Jim Henson by Charles River Editors
*Includes pictures *Includes their own quotes about their lives and careers *Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading When it comes to the entertainment world and movie business, few names are as recognizable as Walt Disney, a versatile writer, producer, director, artist and voice actor who literally turned his name into a billion dollar business. Whether it was through the creation of iconic cartoons like Mickey Mouse or America's favorite theme parks, Disney and his assorted businesses have entertained countless numbers of people across the globe, particularly young kids. At a time when cinema was still a new and growing business, Disney staked out unique turf by bringing comics to life on screen, with his first big hit being Mickey Mouse. Of course, the popularity of Mickey Mouse helped spawn future creations like Donald Duck and Pluto, all household names that have long since become part of Americana and the English lexicon. Disney had already earned an Academy Award by 1932, but he was far from done, introducing viewers to new characters like Snow White and continuing to make popular cartoon series that played well on the big screen. By the late 1940s, Disney was turning his attention to a new form of entertainment: amusement parks. While other children's theme parks existed, none would rival the creation of Disneyland in the 1950s, part of Disney's grand vision: "I just want it to look like nothing else in the world. And it should be surrounded by a train." Disney also branched out into other businesses, ensuring that by the 1960s, his name was on one of the biggest production companies in the world. When people discuss the great television characters of all time, names such as Lucille Ball, Andy Griffith, and Jerry Seinfeld are frequently mentioned, but so are fictional characters like Kermit the Frog. What makes Kermit an interesting choice is the fact that he's a Muppet, and just one of Jim Henson's many iconic Muppets at that. Millions of people are instantly familiar with Muppets like Kermit, Oscar the Grouch, Yorick, and Miss Piggy, and while the Muppets may lack the physical dimensions of the human television characters listed above, there is no denying the influence they have exerted on America's youth and popular culture more broadly. Their popularity remains undiminished even several decades following their inception. If the Muppets are among the most famous of all television characters, their significance also stems from the way in which their purpose was always about more than simply entertainment. Put simply, the Muppets have played an instrumental role in the education of America's youth, and there existed an educational imperative behind much of what Jim Henson created. For many children, learning to count, learning to read, and, on a broader level, learning to make sense of the world have all involved the Muppets, either on Sesame Street (1969-) or the many other movies and shows that have featured Jim Henson's characters. Of course, Henson's genius was also on display in the way he was able to captivate not just young children but also adults as well. As his career evolved, Henson began exploring more adults themes, and it is not for nothing that children and adults alike mourned his premature death in 1990. Henson's early passing leaves many questions unanswered regarding the direction that his future work would have taken, but even so, he left behind a broad and diverse body of work, even if existing loosely within the domain of puppetry. He began his career at an early age and for someone who died so young, his career was quite robust and balanced innovation with the repetition of salient themes. Indeed, Henson's works emphasized morality and the value of dreams, desires, education, and cooperation.
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