Henson, Jim

Henson, Jim (James Maury Henson), 1936–90, American puppeteer, creator of the Muppets, b. Greenville, Miss., grad. Univ. of Maryland (A.B., 1960). In 1954 he got his first job as a local television puppeteer, soon created (1955) his alter ego, the debonair Kermit the Frog, and subsequently introduced several early Muppets (a cross between hand puppets and marionettes, with mobile, expressive faces and gesturing hands). With these creations, Henson reinvented the art of puppetry. Henson, associate Frank Oz, and the numerous Muppets went on to star (beginning in 1969) in public television's Sesame Street, which became an international hit. The Muppet Show, an Emmy-winning television variety series (1976–80), was also a success, and Henson developed many other television projects. In addition to Kermit, Henson's dramatis personae include the flamboyant Miss Piggy, the insatiable Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie, the nonpuppet Big Bird, and a host of others. Henson's Muppets began their film career in The Muppet Movie (1979), later appearing in The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) and a number of other films. Henson died of pneumonia in 1990. In 2000 his company was sold to a German firm, but in 2003 his family reacquired the company, which continues to produce a variety of mainly Muppet-related projects.

See biography by B. J. Jones (2013).

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