James Maury Henson (September 24, 1936 – May 16, 1990) was an American puppeteer, animator, cartoonist, actor, inventor, composer, and screenwriter, who achieved worldwide notice as the creator of The Muppets characters and Fraggle Rock (1983–1987); and as the director of The Dark Crystal (1982) and Labyrinth (1986). He was born in Greenville, Mississippi, and raised in Leland, Mississippi, and University Park, Maryland.Henson began developing puppets in high school. He created Sam and Friends (1955–1961), 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. A few years later the two married. He 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 1958, he co-founded Muppets, Inc. with Jane, which became The Jim Henson Company. In 1969, Henson joined the children's educational television program Sesame Street (1969–present) where he helped to develop Muppet characters for the series. He and his creative team also appeared on the first season of the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (1975–present). He produced The Muppet Show (1976–1981) during this period. He won fame for his characters, particularly Kermit the Frog, Rowlf the Dog and Ernie. During the later years of his life, he founded the Jim Henson Foundation and Jim Henson's Creature Shop. He won the Emmy Award twice for his involvement in The StoryTeller (1987–1988) and The Jim Henson Hour (1989). On May 16, 1990, Henson died in New York City at the age of 53 from streptococcal toxic shock syndrome caused by Streptococcus pyogenes. He posthumously received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991, and was named a Disney Legend in 2011.
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