On This Day

Jim Henson

Muppeteer and Filmmaker Jim Henson

Profession: Muppeteer and Filmmaker

United States of America

Biography: Jim Henson was a puppeteer and filmmaker whose work proved to be not only extremely popular but hugely influential. He is the creator of not only The Muppets but also many of the puppet characters on Sesame Street as well as a number of other films and television specials.

Henson's puppet act was first developed when he was at college in Washington D.C. for a local TV show "Sam and Friends" with his later wife Jane Nebel. Later, working with Frank Oz, his puppets appeared in commercials and TV specials before the children's show "Sesame Street" was launched in 1969 with characters like Kermit the Frog, the Cookie Monster and the Grouch.

Aimed at a more general audience, "The Muppet Show" was launched on TV in 1976 and ran till 1981. Successful movies followed starting with "The Muppet Movie" in 1979. Muppets characters like Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Gonzo have since become embedded in popular culture.

In his later years Henson pursued a darker vision though such animated films as Labyrinth (1986) starring David Bowie. Henson died unexpectedly of streptococcus pneumonia at the age of 53.

Born: September 24, 1936
Birthplace: Greenville, Mississippi, USA

Generation: Silent Generation
Chinese Zodiac: Rat
Star Sign: Libra

Died: May 16, 1990 (aged 53)
Cause of Death: Bacterial pneumonia

Married Life

  • 1959-05-28 Muppeteer Jim Henson (22) weds Jane Nebel (24) in Salisbury, Maryland

Historical Events

  • 1958-11-20 American puppeteers Jim and Jane Henson establish Muppets, Inc. (now known as The Jim Henson Company)
  • 1969-11-10 "Sesame Street" premieres on PBS TV
  • 1976-09-05 Jim Henson's "The Muppet Show" premieres on television with Mia Farrow as the guest star
  • 1979-05-22 1st ACE Cable Awards: "Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas" by Jim Henson and HBO

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