The Creature: The Jedi Master who makes his debut in The Empire Strikes Back . A tricky, powerful being, he speaks in an unusual manner that has been the subject of much scholarly study.
Henson Magic: Frank Oz manipulated and voiced the Yoda puppet on Henson’s recommendation, and earned an Oscar nomination for his efforts.
The Creature: A moody dwarf who Sarah attempts to befriend in Labyrinth . We first find him killing fairies outside the eponymous maze – something Sarah deems cruel until she discovers they bite people. Eventually the two end up friends – they even exchange shinies.
Henson Magic: The costume for Hoggle got lost on a plane, and can now be found in The Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama.
Kermit The Frog
The Creature: Jim Henson’s most recognisable creation and the figurehead (not to mention letterhead) of the Muppets. Kermit debuted in 1955, making him almost as old as our dad, and enjoys flailing his arms around while cheering “Yaaay!” as loudly as possible.
Henson Magic: Henson admitted that he saw some of himself in Kermit, though acknowledged that Kermie “can say things I hold back”.
The Creature: Creaky old wise-woman who appears in The Dark Crystal . She’s so old that she remembers the time before the crystal split, and therefore provides gelfling Jen with invaluable information. She’s also able to remove her eye. Handy.
Henson Magic: During promotion of The Dark Crystal , Henson and Frank Oz were interviewed on TV with Aughra – who proved a massive, cranky distraction.
Statler And Waldorf
The Creature: Residents of a balcony box in The Muppet Theatre, Statler and Waldorf are two old goons who constantly heckle and berate performers. They particularly hate Fozzie Bear – even though they were apparently friends with his mother.
Henson Magic: Statler and Waldorf have only appeared separately on a handful of occasions, one of them being the time Statler got a facelift in one episode of The Muppet Show.
The Creature: Towering beast in Labyrinth , Ludo helps Sarah on her quest to reclaim her kidnapped baby stepbrother. Ludo is, as Sarah puts it, a “nice beast”, as gentle as he is giant. He’s also friends with rocks.
Henson Magic: A TV screen was installed in Ludo’s stomach so that the puppet operator could see the set and manoeuvre better.
The Creature: A massive 8 foot tall, Big Bird first appeared on Sesame Street in 1969, and continues to be a regular on the show. He lives, fittingly, in a big bird’s nest, and enjoys roller skating and writing poetry. Ahhh.
Henson Magic: In 1976 Big Bird revealed what kind of bird he really is – a Lark.
The Creature: “It’s so stimulating being your head.” A shuffling wiseman offers Sarah guidance in Labyrinth – but is constantly interrupted by the yammering bird that’s attached to his cranium.
Henson Magic: Constant Henson collaborator Frank Oz handled this puppet, while Michael Hordern provided the voice.
Bert & Ernie
The Creature: As close as we’re ever going to get to Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon being immortalised as puppets, this Sesame Street duo live together in a basement apartment. Bert is the straight man to Ernie’s joker.
Henson Magic: “I remember trying Bert and Frank tried Ernie for a while,” says Henson, “and then we settled on the present arrangement. I can’t imagine doing Bert now, because Bert has become so much of a part of Frank.”
The Creature: Deformed, mean-spirited creatures, the Skeksis are the main antagonists in The Dark Crystal . They resemble featherless birds, and live lives filled with excess – guzzling down food and retaining their youth by draining the life essence out of Podlings.
Henson Magic: The Skeksis made such an impression on the Scissor Sisters that they used them for a lyric in their song ‘Return To Oz’.