Michael K. Frith

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Michael Kingsbury Frith
Born (1941-07-08) 8 July 1941 (age 75)
Hamilton, Bermuda
Education Harvard College
Occupation director, consultant, designer, puppeteer, producer, creator, writer, illustrator, and technician
Spouse(s) Kathryn Mullen

Michael Kingsbury Frith (born 8 July 1941) is the former Executive Vice-President and Creative Director for Jim Henson Productions. His contributions to Muppet projects[1] have been extensive and varied.[2]

Biography[edit]

Frith was born in Bermuda and educated at Harvard College.[citation needed] He and Christopher Cerf co-wrote Alligator, the 1962 Harvard Lampoon parody of James Bond novels.[3] Later he illustrated the front cover of Bored of the Rings, the 1969 Lampoon parody of The Lord of the Rings.[4]

Frith began his career at Random House in 1963 as a children's book illustrator and editor. He was Editor-in-Chief of the Beginner Books series, the line of books created by Theodor Seuss Geisel, Dr. Seuss. He was also Dr. Seuss's book editor and close personal friend.

In 1971, when Random House began publishing Sesame Street books, Frith was named editor and art director of the Sesame series. He produced a series of five annual large-format Sesame Street Storybooks, and contributed artwork for four of them: The Sesame Street Storybook (1971), The Sesame Street 1, 2, 3 Storybook (1973), The Sesame Street ABC Storybook (1974), and Big Bird's Busy Book (1975). Appreciating Frith's talents as a designer, Jim Henson brought him on board his creative team. One of Frith's early projects was designing characters for the The Land of Gorch segment of Saturday Night Live.

Frith recalled his beginnings with the Muppets in The Saturday Evening Post (December 1980): "The first drawings I ever worked on were characters for Saturday Night Live. The Muppets did regular segments for a season featuring characters about as far removed from Sesame Street as you could get. Jim asked me to come over one day to talk about creating Muppet personalities—specifically, strange, mossy, warty creatures. Instead of traditional ones with cartoon eyes—round, white and black—he had become fascinated with taxidermist eyes: cow, camel and tiger eyes. Around this simple concept of a different eye evolved a whole new concept which led to the creation of the crazy-eyed loonies we enjoy today."[citation needed]

He joined Henson Associates full-time as Art Director in 1975. He was named Vice-President in 1978, and Executive Vice-President and Director of Creative Services in 1985. After the success of "The Muppet Show" series Henson wanted Frith, along with two other Muppet Show stalwarts Jerry Juhl, Jocelyn Stevenson (both writers) and newcomer to the Henson productions Duncan Kenworthy (producer), to create a new children's show which would appeal to a much wider international audience."Fraggle Rock" is the new show which emerged and subsequently ran for 4 seasons,96 episodes between 10 January 1983 and 30 March 1987. This new show centred on "Muppet" creatures known as Fraggles, who live underground along with several other species of creature such as Doozers and Gorgs. He designed many of the creatures and settings which existed in this universe. He explains that he drew on two major parts of his background when creating the "look" of the show, the first his many years in working with Ted Geissels (Dr.Seuss) on several children's books and the second being his growing up in Bermuda. on YouTube[5]

In October 1995, Frith left Henson Productions to start a new company, Sirius Thinking, Ltd., with John Sculley, Christopher Cerf and Norman Stiles. Sirius is the multi-media children's education company that created Between the Lions, an award-winning educational puppet show on PBS, in 2000. Frith served as the Executive Producer, Creative Director, Conceptual Designer and Co-Creator of the show.[citation needed]

Frith's projects and credits[edit]

Film and television[edit]

Books written or illustrated[edit]

Animals Do the Strangest Things – series of Random House Step-Up Books written by Leonora Hornblow and Arthur Hornblow, illustrated by Frith

  • Animals Do the Strangest Things (Random House, 1964), OCLC 310155
  • Birds Do the Strangest Things (1965)
  • Fish Do the Strangest Things (1966)
  • Insects Do the Strangest Things (1968)
  • Reptiles Do the Strangest Things (1970)
  • Prehistoric Monsters Do the Strangest Things (1974)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stetler, Carrie (31 January 1987). "IMAGINE THAT FOR THE FIRST TIME, THE MUPPET BABIES TAKE THEIR CREATIVE FANTASY TO THE STAGE". Morning Call. p. A47. Retrieved 28 June 2011. ...says Michael Frith, Muppet designer and vice president of Henson Associates. ... 
  2. ^ The Bermudian magazine, October, 2001, Page 13. Profile, by Rosemary Jones: READING BETWEEN THE LIONS. Bermudian Michael Frith takes his passion for learning to TV.
  3. ^ "Alligator (A Harvard Lampoon Parody)". Bookseller product display. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
  4. ^ a b Bored of the Rings title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
  5. ^ Documentary Segment (2007) "THE CREATION OF FRAGGLE ROCK" on YouTube Video Interview: 00:34; retrieved 10 October 2012.

External links[edit]