Jane Henson Dies

The Muppets designer was 78

Jane Henson

Sad tidings this morning with BBC News reporting the death of Jane Henson. The Muppets designer and Jim Henson's former spouse died at her home in Connecticut after a long struggle with cancer. She was 78.

Born Jane Nebel in New York, the youngest of three children, Henson took a fine arts education major at the University of Maryland. There she met Jim Henson in a puppetry class in the mid-'50s. Quickly bonding over a shared love of smart, off-the-wall puppetry, the pair went on to work together for an NBC subsidiary in Washington DC.

Their five-minute sketches on TV show Sam And Friends caught the eye of variety show producers and led to a national TV debut on Steve Allen's Tonight Show, and from that Kermit and co were born in the shape of the wildly successful Muppets.

The pair married in May 1959 and went on to have five children together, including Lisa (1960), Cheryl (1961), Brian (1963), John (1965) and Heather (1970). Jane gave up puppetry in the 1960s to raise their children, but would return to make occasional cameos on Sesame Street.

The pair separated in 1986, four years before Jim Henson's death. She went on to establish The Jim Henson Legacy to preserve his memory and the impact of his work, as well as the philanthropic Jane Henson Foundation.

A statement on the Jim Henson Company website described her as "an integral creative and business partner" in the Muppets world. The Doozers have downed tools to mourn the passing of a legend.