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Season 6 Version

I thought I'd add this info here to clarify the two different versions based on Karen Falk's letter. According to the 40 years book, the segment was filmed for the second season, but the original ending was so disturbing to kids that it was remade. Since this new version appears on Old School: Volume 2, that would mean that the new version was filmed 4 years later, explaining why Heather is there and not in the original clip. -- MuppetDude 17:37, December 15, 2009 (UTC)

From Karen Falk...

I recently e-mailed the Jim Henson Legacy to get some more information on this film - mainly what was the level of Jim Henson's involvement. I got a wonderful reply from Karen Falk with some real interesting information:

β€œJim Henson made about 25 short films for Sesame Street during the first three seasons (including the much-loved "King of Eight"). Often he inserted his young children or their friends into the films. He first did a series of films that all ended with a chef falling down the stairs. His second contract for the 1970/71 season included producing another series. Jim proposed a variety of styles including live action (#2 Dollhouse), stop motion (Queen of 6, King of 8, 12 Rocks), computer animation, traditional animation, etc. It was up to Jim to collaborate with whomever he pleased on these. Don Sahlin, who had been working with Jim for almost 10 years by that time, was instrumental in creating the stop motion animation. Two of the traditionally animated films that never actually aired (Seven Monsters and Ardy Bumble) were produced with Maurice Sendak.

Frank Oz proposed the idea to Jim for a Number Three film in which balls travel through an elaborate metal structure that he created. The ball periodically trips levers, causing signs to pop up showing the numbers 1,2, and 3, which are counted by a young boy (voice of Brian Henson). At the end, the ball is replaced by three cherries that plop into ice cream parfaits. A little girl that looks just like Heather Henson, Jim's youngest child, scoops one up and eats it. In place of a storyboard or script, Frank used note cards to script the sequence of the film. Jim Henson produced the film and worked with Frank on the project -- Jim Henson wrote the music for the film and some of the cards are drawn in Jim's hand. But Frank gets the director credit.

The curious thing about the film is the little girl. From the files, it looks like the film was shot in late November/early December 1970 and delivered to CTW at the end of January, 1971. Heather Henson was born in December 1970. The girl in the film, who is almost certainly Heather, looks about 2-3 years old. So, I will have to make some inquiries and see how that is possible.

Hope that helps!

Karen Falk
Archives, The Jim Henson Company”

-- Brad D. (talk) 06:44, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

So it sounds like Jim Henson was contracted to make a series of inserts for the second season of Sesame Street, and this film was one of them. However Jim collaborated with (and involved) many of his friends, family and collegues (such as Don Sahlin, Frank Oz, Maurice Sendak, and even his children) when it came time to actually produce these films. So while Jim did not personally direct this one (Frank did), it is still part of the package of Henson's Sesame Street films (thus the title of "Henson Ball High Wire #3"), Jim contributed to it (music and cards), and he produced it along with all his other inserts - however Frank was also a real driving force with this one. -- Brad D. (talk) 06:57, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
That's a great reply, Brad! Well done. Definitely a ton of useful info to incorporate into the article. I'm not entirely clear what the active question is, though, or if you just wanted to be sure this was seen. If it's still whether this should count as a "Jim Henson Film" in terms of the definition we'd mostly agreed on at Talk:Youth '68, I still say no, since Henson was not the original creator/auteur but obviously did play a crucial role, and it's fantastic that we now know in such detail what that role was. It was Oz's idea, Oz's direction, mostly Oz's script/storyboard, so in this case Henson was the collaborator in terms of working on music and drawing some of the boards (and of course producer, thus being in a position to have just said no to Oz), similar to, say, Jerry Juhl on The Cube. But all of this is wonderful. I'm glad you asked, and this definitely will help flesh out the page (and our understanding of the inserts in general). Definitely a note in the article (and on Sesame Street) about the specific contractual nature of these bits and Henson's role as overall producer. Otherwise I think the categorization really would just add to fan confusion and the false assumptions and rumors we have documented further down on this talk page, but the information clarifies things and where exactly it fits as far as both Henson and Oz. Once again, great work, Brad! This makes my day. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 18:47, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
Slightly off-topic, has anyone ever asked Karen about the details of the Baker Film for #1? (What was in it, when did it air, etc.) -- Ken (talk) 04:54, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
Amazing. Sandbox:List of Henson produced Sesame Street inserts has 22 segments listed. Only three more to go! It seems that Karen Falk isn't aware that the film has two endings. Maybe the one with Heather Henson was filmed a few years later. And it's a shame that she doesn't say what films Henson made in the thrid season. --Minor muppetz 13:30, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

"Henson Film"?

Knowing what we know now, should this also be under the category of "Henson Films" as well as Frank Oz? Personally, I think the "handwriting" of the digits looks like Jim's. But I digress... --Dave Splurge 22:59, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

I don't know. It's listed on Old School: Volume 2 as "Henson Ball Wire #3", but the person who wrote the title could have been mistaking Henson for Oz. There is a source that Frank Oz directed it, but I haven't seen any sources that say that Henson worked on it as well, though I also haven't seen any sources that directly state that he wasn't involved. Maybe he produced or wrote or storyboarded the segment, while Oz directed it. --Minor muppetz 00:09, 12 November 2007 (UTC)
Dave, I don't know what you mean when you say "knowing what we now know." We have a statement direct from Oz that he made the film, so I'm not sure what you're getting at. Ifyou mean the DVD labeling, as Michael says, that doesn't really prove much. We'd need something definitive beyond a DVD label or a guess about handwriting to justify dual categorization. Check the category definitions. Henson films is for projects "personally directed by Jim Henson," and the same goes for the Frank Oz category, not just things they wrote. The only cheat we have is Youth '68, which it turns out was actually directed by Jon Stone, but it was definitely Jim's project overall and we don't have anywhere else to put it, so it stays. But I'd like that to remain the only exception, and not toss in everything where we discover that Henson scripted or co-composed music (the ASCAP listing is ambiguous as to whether it covers both, since the registration is for the music).-- Andrew Leal (talk) 00:20, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Powdered ball: not as weird as it seems

Most kids today wouldn't understand the ball being ground up (I didn't either when I was a girl). But according to an older fan I corresponded with several years ago, Superballs used to be sold in powdered form during the 60s: they came with a mold, and the buyer would add water to the powder in there. Wonder if Henson and/or Oz were trying to reverse the process? ;-) -- Ingeborg 06:05, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

music title

It is said here that the ASCAP catelogues the music as "No. 3 Ball Powder". However, I wonder if that's just the music title, being different from the sketch title. --Minor muppetz 20:54, 27 February 2007 (UTC)


I originally named this article Rollercoaster 1, 2, 3 because that's what the DVD chapter stop on Learning About Numbers calls it. However, an episode of National Arts featuring footage from The Vision of Jim Henson shows an exhibit placard which calls it Number Three Ball Film. Those placards were prepared by the Henson and CTW Archives, so I'm going with that over Sony Wonder's DVD chapter. β€” Scott (talk) 18:51, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

Henson film

Dean added this to Henson Films; what's the source on that? Is it in one of the non-fiction books? -- Scott (talk) 18:24, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

I don't know the source, but I thought I read somewhere that Frank Oz directed this. --Minor muppetz 04:05, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Dean hasn't replied to his talk page. I'm removing the category for now, but I'll leave the talk box up for a little while longer. -- Scott (talk) 04:12, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
It was Frank Oz that created the film. He said so in this IGN interview (look toward the bottom). -- Mary Catherine (talk) 00:48, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
Now, that's a source... nice job! -- Scott (talk) 01:08, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
But what's the source of a young Heather Henson being in one of the films? --Dave Splurge 22:08, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
A picture of her. -- Scott (talk) 22:49, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
That would do it for me. I just didn't know for sure that the girl in the picture was identified as Heather, whether there was a source from her or Frank Oz saying she was the girl in the film. But it looks like everyone else recognized her better than I. -- Dave Splurge 13:16, 12 July 2006 (UTC)