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Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, poses with Kermit the Frog at an event in February 1988. (Photo credit: AP/file.)

Here's how Jim Henson, who would've turned 80 this weekend, changed pop culture forever


Here's how Jim Henson, who would've turned 80 this weekend, changed pop culture forever

WATCH: Sept. 25 marks what would have been the 80th birthday of Jim Henson, who died from pneumonia complications at age 53 in 1990. Here are eight ways the legendary puppeteer and creative visionary changed the world.

Wilkins Coffee Commercials

1. He created the Muppets in 1955.

An early, more amorphous version of Kermit the Frog appeared in vintage ads for Wilkins Coffee, but the combination of that distinctive voice and slapstick comedy with an air of sophistication foreshadowed what followed.

Sesame Street: When Oscar was Orange (I Love Trash)

2. He created "Sesame Street" in 1969.

In the early years, Oscar was orange, but the magic was there from the start. The iconic children's television show now airs in more than 120 countries.

3. In a way, he helped launch "SNL." Season 1 featured multiple Muppet sketches.

Dave Grohl and Animal Drum Battle - The Muppets

4. He made it cool for celebrities to hang with puppets.

Consider recent Exhibit A: Dave Grohl, who guested on ABC's recent Muppets mockumentary. Or Exhibit B: Steve Martin on the original "Muppet Show." Or Exhibit C: Amy Adams in the 2011 movie "The Muppets."

Leonard Maltin Interviews George Lucas, Part 2: The Empire Strikes Back

5. Henson convinced George Lucas to cast Frank Oz as Yoda in "The Empire Strikes Back."

A good choice, he made.

Dance Magic - Labyrinth - The Jim Henson Company

6. Collaborating with Lucas, Henson directed "Labyrinth," giving David Bowie the Bowiest role that ever Bowied.

Henson also made sure the rock legend's "Dance Magic" lived up to its billing.

Jim Henson's Creature Shop Character Reel

7. Henson's Creature Shop is responsible for Deadmau5's distinctive headpiece.

The Creature Shop also created onstage characters for Lady Gaga, cinematic magic for "Where the Wild Things Are," and, oh yeah, the entire puppet cast of "Fraggle Rock."

Jim Henson and the Muppets (Disney Legends Tribute Reel)

8. Henson continues to inspire generations, 26 years after his death.

Whether it's the Tony-winning "Avenue Q" or Comedy Central's "Crank Yankers," Henson and his vision continue to inspire new creative projects, one lovable googly-eyed creature at a time.

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