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Jane Henson, Muppets collaborator, dies at 78

Jane Henson, the wife of Jim Henson, worked with her husband in creating, designing and marketing the Muppets.

April 02, 2013|By Claire Noland, Los Angeles Times
  • This 1960 handout photo provided by The Jim Henson Co. shows Jane Henson, right, with Jim Henson and the cast of "Sam and Friends," in Washington.
This 1960 handout photo provided by The Jim Henson Co. shows Jane Henson,… (Del Ankers / The Jim Henson…)

Jane Nebel Henson, who collaborated with her husband, Jim Henson, in creating, designing and marketing the Muppets, died Tuesday at her home in Connecticut after battling cancer. She was 78.

Her death was announced by the Jim Henson Co.

The couple met in a puppetry class at the University of Maryland in the 1950s. Combining marionettes and puppets, Jim Henson began performing with his creations on a TV show called “Sam and Friends” in Washington, D.C. He asked Jane to join him on the program as a performer and puppet designer, and she became his creative and business partner in the endeavor that spawned Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and the “Sesame Street” characters Big Bird, Ernie and the Cooke Monster.

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They married in 1959 and Jane Henson raised their five children while teaching art.

She continued her involvement in her husband’s company and in the 1970s the Hensons launched “The Muppet Show” and a series of Muppets movies.

She also served on the board of the Jim Henson Foundation, which promotes puppetry and makes grants to puppet artists.

Jim Henson died in 1990.

A complete obituary will follow at


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