Let’s get this out of the way – I own over 170 t-shirts related to the creations of Jim Henson and the Jim Henson Company. The vast majority feature The Muppet Show family of characters, but they run the gamut from Sesame Street to Fraggle Rock to Labyrinth to The Dark Crystal to even a Dinosaurs and a Bear in the Big Blue House shirt for good measure. Nearly all of them are unique designs except for a couple I own in different colors. I also have three different versions of artist Jamie Carroll’s fantastic “Muppetational Mosaic” design.
I have been sharing my collection and the story behind it on social media for some time. Steve Swanson suggested I post a blog about it on the MuppetCast website. As a lifelong Muppet fan, my collection started innocently enough with a bunch of shirts I purchased over the years from local retailers or while on vacation at a Disney park.
In March 2013, just a couple of months before my 40th birthday, I was diagnosed with lymphoma. It was also around this time I first started listening to The MuppetCast. I found the podcast to be entertaining, enlightening, inspirational, and a heckuva lot of fun. This was also during a period when the podcast was on an extended hiatus. However, there was an archive of well over 200 shows to explore! It was an escape from the frightening things that were going on in my life. (Fortunately, Steve decided to return to the podcast in 2015, and I was happy to contribute/assist with MuppetCast.com when the revamped website launched later in the year.)
The type of lymphoma I had was considered low-grade, and I was required to have a daily radiation treatment for twenty days. I wore a Kermit the Frog shirt to my first treatment. It prompted such positive vibes and comments that I decided to wear Muppet shirts to all of my treatments. I had (and continue to have) a wonderful support system, but taking the Muppets with me everyday was another means to stay optimistic. Choosing which shirt to wear also gave me a fun thing to look forward to each morning. Everything went smoothly and we celebrated completion of my treatments by taking my niece to Heather Henson’s The Muppet Movie sing-along at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta.
Muppet shirts had kind of become my thing by this point, so I continued adding to my collection. I had a recurrence of lymphoma the following year. I once again wore Muppet t-shirts while taking treatments. I had accumulated so many shirts by this point that I was able to wear Muppet shirts daily from my first radiation appointment until the follow-up appointment with my hematologist several weeks after the treatments had ended. This was a total of 51 shirts! At that point I had 45 The Muppet Show character shirts, 3 Fraggle Rock shirts, 2 Sesame Street shirts, and 1 Labyrinth shirt.
I have been doing well the past two years, and my prognosis is good. Nonetheless, the t-shirt collection continues to grow. I obtained my 100th shirt in July 2015 as a prize during the MuppetCast’s Great Muppet Haiku Contest. As of this writing, I am at 175 shirts, plus seven more honorable mentions that don’t fit into a Muppet t-shirt category. Those are a Muppet Christmas sweatshirt, Project Puppet’s Puppet Builder’s Cheat Shirt, two shirts featuring Figment from the “Journey into Imagination with Figment” attraction at Epcot (Figment is voiced by Muppet performer Dave Goelz), one with Mister Rogers holding King Friday XIII, an Oscar the Grouch Christmas sweatshirt, and a Yoda t-shirt. It’s getting harder to find a shirt I don’t own or haven’t seen before, but friends and family frequently inform me about new shirts they find. More than one person has told me I need to have enough to wear a different shirt every day for a year. I don’t know about that. Where would I store them? On the other hand, I am nearly halfway there…
Below are photos of my collection: