James “Jim” Maury Henson (September 24, 1936 – May 16, 1990) was a puppeteer, artist, screenwriter, film director, and producer. He was a 1954 graduate of Northwestern High School, in Hyattsville, MD, where his future ambition is listed in his senior yearbook as “commercial artist.”
Henson became interested in puppetry as a member of Les Petit Players at Northwestern, which is now home to the Jim Henson Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts. He developed the prototype of Kermit the Frog (Henson’s acknowledged alter-ego) while he was in college. Shortly after graduation, he started Muppets Inc., which later became The Jim Henson Company. He began working with Frank Oz in 1963 (with their friendship and partnership lasting the rest of Henson’s life).
In 1969, Henson was tapped by Children’s Television Workshop to begin working on a new program called Sesame Street. It was here that he developed some of his most famous Muppet characters, including Kermit and Ernie (both voiced by Henson). Interested in bringing his creations to a wider audience, he launched The Muppet Show in 1976, with Kermit as one of the star characters. This popular show ended in 1981, prompted by Henson’s wish to focus on filmmaking.
In addition to working on several Muppet movies, he went on to create puppets for Labyrinth (which he also directed) and The Dark Crystal. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop is still considered to be one of the top creators of film creatures. Both he and Kermit have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.