Brain Pickings

Sam + Friends: Vintage Muppets Explore Visual Thinking


What vintage Muppets have to do with synesthesia and visual thinking.

Fifty-six years ago today, Sam + Friends — the early live-action puppet TV show by Muppets creator Jim Henson and his eventual wife Jane — made its official debut. Its characters, all of whom Henson voiced himself, presaged not only modern icons like Kermit and The Muppets, but even some of today’s cultural archetypes. (One of Sam’s friends was named Harry the Hipster.)

This vintage kinescope from the show’s early days offers a rare look at the dawn of a cultural icon and explores visual thinking, particularly in music — something we’ve recently covered and have an ongoing fascination with.

For more on the story of Sam + Friends, see Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street, as well as Chapter 2 of the altogether fantastic Kermit book, Before You Leap: A Frog’s Eye View of Life’s Greatest Lessons.

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