Every September 24th (AKA Unofficial Kermit the Frog Day), I get to marvel over one of the best coincidences of all time: Jim Henson and Steve Whitmire sharing the same birthday. I’ve heard so many people call it fate, that it wasn’t a coincidence at all that Steve ended up becoming Kermit’s performer because he was literally born for the role.
I’m not usually one to mystify or romanticise things, but you know what? I’m inclined to agree with that notion!
Listening to Steve’s episode of Integral Naked (which I could leave a link to, but you’d have to pay for it), it’s always fun to hear Steve talking to Ken Wilbur about the first time he mentioned to Jim that they shared the same birthday. “I knew there was something really strange about you, ” Jim apparently said to him upon hearing the news.
Every now and again, I like to think about how Jim and Steve would celebrate the day if they happened to be working on a production at the time. Did the rest of the cast and crew throw a party for them? Did they tease each other over it? Did they do a present swap and watch each other in anticipation of their reactions? Was there a super-adorable cake saying, “Happy Birthday Jim+Steve!” and they blew out the candles together while wearing matching party hats?
A/N: I may or may not be gushing over the cuteness of that image.
See, these are the type of silly questions I’ll be asking until my final breath!
Personally, I celebrate the occasion every year by watching my favourite performances from either Performer. Allow me to show you two of my absolute favourites from Jim and Steve respectively. To start with Jim, I always go back to ‘Time In A Bottle’. The song itself is beautiful, but Jim always had a habit of making something good into absolutely brilliant.
To some up Jim’s performance in the clip below in one word- Magical.
It’s a bit harder to choose a golden moment from Steve. Not because the choices are slim-pickings, quite the opposite actually. My top pick comes from Fraggle Rock. The episode, ‘Gone But Not Forgotten’ breaks my heart. I’ve mentioned this a couple of times in the past, but it’s hard enough to watch your favourite character witness a death firsthand, let alone going through the motions of grief with them as well. Steve handles Wembley’s extensive spectrum of emotion beautifully and as a result, it’s one of the best performances he has done of any character.
Unfortunately there were no (decent) clips I could find to accompany it, but here’s the best screenshot I could take from that episode.
I could go on all day, but I want to spend as much time as possible today just appreciating the impact both of these men have had on my life. September 24th not only symbolises the Muppets’ creation, but also the continuation of the legacy that has held the Muppets up to this very day. Jim started it all and Steve has continued in his stead, even away from the franchise itself.
To Jim, where ever you happen to be right now, Happy Birthday! I’m sure you’ll be celebrating it with everyone who has joined you on the astral plane. I’m sure the party is crazier and more raucous then is even conceivable in this reality. Do me a favour and save me a piece of that cake for when I can get up there and join you, okay?
And to Steve,
The Happiest of Birthdays to you, mate. I know the past year has been a rough one, so my gift to you is the hope that the following 12 months brings you better days and a brighter future.
As the well-wishes pour in from fans all over the world, to sound completely corny, I’m also hoping it further solidifies in your mind that you are loved and appreciated even outside of your personal social circle. I must admit, it feels great knowing that I can now say this directly to you rather than tweeting birthday wishes where you would never see it.
Here’s also hoping that your friends and family positively spoil you to bits. I’m sure your family has it’s own special birthday traditions; in the spirit of family, I’ll be popping open a bottle of wine tonight and toasting you from afar.
Cheers from a fellow Libra…I mean Libran…..Lib-Librarin? Libranite?
….from…from Marni….just Marni will do.