55 Facts About Jim Henson


James Maury Henson was an American puppeteer, animator, cartoonist, actor, inventor, and filmmaker who achieved worldwide notability as the creator of The Muppets and Fraggle Rock and director of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.


Jim Henson was born in Greenville, Mississippi, and raised in both Leland, Mississippi, and University Park, Maryland.


Jim Henson created Sam and Friends, a short-form comedy television program, while he was a freshman at the University of Maryland, College Park in collaboration with Jane Nebel, who was a senior there.


Jim Henson graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in home economics, after which he and Jane produced coffee advertisements and developed experimental films.


In 1969, Jim Henson joined the children's educational television program Sesame Street where he helped to develop Muppet characters for the series.


Jim Henson produced the sketch comedy television series The Muppet Show during this period.


Jim Henson won fame for his characters, particularly Kermit the Frog, Rowlf the Dog and Ernie.


Jim Henson won the Emmy Award twice for his involvement in The StoryTeller and The Jim Henson Hour.


Jim Henson posthumously received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991, and was named a Disney Legend in 2011.


Jim Henson was raised as a Christian Scientist and spent his early childhood in nearby Leland, Mississippi, before moving with his family to University Park, Maryland, near Washington, DC, in the late 1940s.


Jim Henson remembered the arrival of the family's first television as "the biggest event of his adolescence", being heavily influenced by radio ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and the early television puppets of Burr Tillstrom on Kukla, Fran and Ollie and Bil and Cora Baird.


Jim Henson remained a Christian Scientist at least into his twenties when he taught Sunday school, but he wrote to a Christian Science church in 1975 to inform them that he was no longer a practicing member.


At age 18, Jim Henson began working for WTOP-TV in 1954 while attending Northwestern High School, creating puppets for a Saturday morning children's show called The Junior Morning Show.


Jim Henson enrolled at the University of Maryland, College Park as a studio arts major upon graduation, thinking that he might become a commercial artist.


Jim Henson graduated in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science degree in home economics.


Jim Henson believed that television puppets needed to have "life and sensitivity" and began making characters from flexible, fabric-covered foam rubber, allowing them to express a wider array of emotions at a time when many puppets were made of carved wood.


When Jim Henson began work on Sam and Friends, he asked fellow University of Maryland senior Jane Nebel to assist him.


Jim Henson spent several months in Europe, where he was inspired by European puppet performers who looked on their work as an art form.


Jim Henson began dating Jane after his return to the United States.


Jim Henson spent much of the next two decades working in commercials, talk shows, and children's projects before realizing his dream of the Muppets as "entertainment for everybody".


Jim Henson appeared as a guest on many shows, including The Steve Allen Show, The Jack Paar Program, and The Ed Sullivan Show.


The Jim Henson Company has posted a short selection of them.


The Jim Henson company claimed that Brady was incorrectly using Jim Henson's name and likeness in their attempts to license the characters.


Jane quit performing to raise their children, and Jim Henson hired writer Jerry Juhl in 1961 and puppet performer Frank Oz in 1963 to replace her.


Jim Henson credited them both with developing much of the humor and character of his Muppets.


In New York City, Jim Henson formed a partnership with Bernie Brillstein, who managed Jim Henson's career until the puppeteer's death.


Henson was so grateful for this break that he offered Jimmy Dean a 40-percent interest in his production company, but Dean declined, stating that Henson deserved all the rewards for his own work, a decision of conscience that Dean never regretted.


From 1963 to 1966, Jim Henson began exploring filmmaking and produced a series of experimental films.


In 1969, television producer Joan Ganz Cooney and her staff at the Children's Television Workshop were impressed by the quality and creativity of the Jim Henson-led team, so they asked Jim Henson and staff to work full-time on Sesame Street, a children's program for public television that premiered on National Educational Television on November 10,1969.


Jim Henson performed the characters of Ernie, game-show host Guy Smiley, and Kermit, who appeared as a roving television news reporter.


Jim Henson was involved in producing various shows and animation inserts during the first two seasons.


Jim Henson produced a series of counting films for the numbers 1 through 10 which always ended with a baker falling down the stairs while carrying the featured number of desserts.


Jim Henson liked Lorne Michaels' work and wanted to be a part of it, but he ultimately concluded that "what we were trying to do and what his writers could write for it never gelled".


Jim Henson began developing a Broadway show and a weekly television series both featuring the Muppets.


The Jim Henson-directed The Great Muppet Caper followed, and Jim Henson decided to end the Muppet Show to concentrate on making films, though the Muppet characters has appeared in TV movies and specials.


Also in 1982, Jim Henson co-founded Jim Henson International Television with Peter Orton and Sophie Turner Laing as his partners.


Jim Henson was a distribution company for children's, teens' and family television.


In 1984 Jim Henson traveled to Moscow, where he made a film about Sergei Obraztsov.


Jim Henson donated four dolls to the puppeteer to replenish the Moscow Museum of Obraztsov Puppets: Fraggle, Skeksi, Bugard, and Robin the Frog.


Jim Henson continued creating children's television, such as Fraggle Rock and the animated Muppet Babies.


Jim Henson continued to address darker, more mature themes with the folklore and mythology-oriented show The StoryTeller, which won an Emmy for Outstanding Children's Program.


Jane said that Jim Henson was so involved with his work that he had very little time to spend with her or their children.


Jim Henson was a strong supporter of the civil rights movement.


Jim Henson appeared with Kermit on The Arsenio Hall Show on May 4,1990.


Jim Henson disclosed to his publicist that he was tired and had a sore throat, but that he believed it would soon go away.


On May 12,1990, Jim Henson traveled to Ahoskie, North Carolina, with his daughter Cheryl to visit his father and stepmother.


Jim Henson suggested to his wife that he might be dying, but he did not want to take time off from his schedule to visit a hospital.


Jim Henson was placed on a ventilator but quickly deteriorated over the next several hours despite increasingly aggressive treatment with multiple antibiotics.


Dr David Gelmont announced that Jim Henson had died from Streptococcus pneumoniae, an infection that causes bacterial pneumonia.


Gelmont noted Jim Henson might have been saved had he gone to hospital even just a few hours sooner.


News of Jim Henson's death spread quickly and admirers of his work responded from around the world with tributes and condolences.


Jim Henson was cremated and in 1992, his ashes were scattered near Taos in New Mexico.


Jim Henson was dismissed from the cast in October 2016, and Matt Vogel succeeded him in the role of Kermit.


The Jim Henson Company retains the Creature Shop as well as the rest of its film and television library, including Fraggle Rock, Farscape, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth.


Jim Henson's characters are currently performed by the following puppeteers: Matt Vogel, Peter Linz, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz and Bill Barretta.