Here are 7 things you didn't know about Jim Henson

FILE-A portrait of American puppeteer and film & television director Jim Henson (1936 - 1990) as he poses with one of his creations, Kermit the Frog, New York, New York, January 4, 1988. (Photo by Michel Delsol/Getty Images)

A new documentary is set for release on the life and legacy of Jim Henson. 

"Jim Henson Idea Man," directed by Academy Award winner Ron Howard, will premiere on May 31 on Disney+ and is going to explore Henson’s illustrious 36-year career and the creation of memorable TV characters like the Muppets. 

Here are a few things to know about the acclaimed creator and puppeteer. 

Jim Henson’s early TV career and "Sesame Street"

Jim Henson gained early experience with televised puppetry when he was still in high school. Henson started performing with his puppets in a local Washington, D.C. Saturday morning show, according to 

jim hensen puppets bert ernie

FILE-Puppeteers (L-R: Daniel Seagren holding and Jim Henson working Ernie and Frank Oz with Bert rehearse for an episode of Sesame Street at Reeves TeleTape Studio in 1970 in New York City, New York. (Photo by David Attie/Getty Images)

In 1955, Henson earned a bi-weekly spot on a local NBC affiliate, "Sam and Friends," while he was a freshman at the University of Maryland. 

The show won a local Emmy Award in 1958, the same year that Henson founded the Jim Henson Company. "Sam and Friends" helped lead Henson to create The Muppets and Kermit the Frog. 

Years later, Henson collaborated with Children’s Television Workshop to produce the beloved children’s show "Sesame Street" on PBS, as Henson created well-known original characters like Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Snuffulupagus and Elmo. 

Muppets and 'The Storyteller'

Jim Henson made a bigger name for himself in the 1970s with "The Muppet Show." He faced initial challenges getting money for the program in the U.S. but received financial backing from the London-based TV producer Lord Lew Grade. 

jim henson with sesame street

FILE-The artists and crew behind the television program "The Muppet Show," created and produced by Jim Henson (front, 3rd from L). (Photo by Nancy Moran/Sygma via Getty Images) noted that Henson and his team created Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Animal, Gonzo, Scooter, and the rest of "The Muppet Show" cast in 1975. A year later, the show with Kermit the Frog as the host debuted in 1976, and as it grew, superstar guest hosts joined the show, including Liza Minnelli, Elton John, Vincent Price, and Steve Martin. Henson’s show reached an astounding 235 million viewers in over 100 countries and won three Emmy Awards.

The success of "The Muppet Show" led to feature films for Henson, including 1979’s "The Muppet Movie"  and the animated TV spin-off, "Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies," which won four Emmys. 

Kermit was closest to Henson’s actual personality

Kermit the Frog was known as kind and a leader, which people close to Jim Henson described him as. According to Screen Rant, Henson said in the past that Kermit is exactly how he was too because the character said things Henson wanted to say but never did. 

jim henson with kermit the frog

FILE-American puppeteer and filmmaker Jim Henson (1936 - 1990) with his best-known Muppet character, Kermit the Frog, January 1984. (Photo by Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Jim Henson had a failed series of skits on the first season of "Saturday Night Live"

Despite his success with children’s shows, Jim Henson wanted to appeal to an older audience.  Henson had a series of skits during the first season of "Saturday Night Live," in a segment called "The Land of Gorch," a skit featuring a royal family living on a fantasy island, and the topics involved alcohol and drugs. The skit was deemed one of the worst segments on SNL and Henson’s worst project ever, according to Screen Rant

jim henson muppets on snl

FILE-Jim Henson's Muppets on "Saturday Night Live." (Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Jim Henson was introduced by the wrong name by Ed Sullivan

Jim Henson appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show" amid his success with "Sam and Friends" and was introduced by the wrong name by host Ed Sullivan.  Henson was invited to perform on the show.

Jim Henson's workshop designed the live-action Ninja Turtles

In 1990, the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" debuted at movie theaters nationwide following its success as an animated show. 

teenage mutant ninja turtles real life

FILE-View of costumed performers, as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, pose outside the offices of the Oprah Winfrey Show, Chicago, Illinois, October 24, 1990. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Jim Henson’s team was hired to create the ninja turtle characters in what was considered innovative puppetry work. Henson was proud of the turtle characters but didn’t like the film because of the violence, Screen Rant noted. 

Jim Henson was influential to the success of Yoda

Jim Henson recommended his long-time friend Frank Oz, a filmmaker and puppeteer, to filmmaker George Lucas to be the voice for Yoda. Oz’s voice mannerisms for Yoda are famous, further cementing Henson’s exceptional design creativity in the entertainment industry. Henson, a Mississippi native, died in 1990.

luke and yoda in star wars

FILE-American actor Mark Hamill on the set of "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" directed by Irvin Kershner. (Photo by Lucasfilm/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

This story was reported from Washington, D.C.