Muppets co-creator Jane Henson dies at 78

Former wife of the late Jim Henson lost her battle with cancer on Tuesday

Jane Henson, co-creator of The Muppets and former wife of Jim Henson, has died at 78.

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She lost her battle with cancer on Tuesday, dying in her home in Connecticut, USA.

Jane Henson was born in 1934, in Queens, New York. She met her former husband, Jim Henson, at a puppetry class at the University of Maryland. They then worked on a five-minute television show Sam and Friends together in 1955 as puppeteers and business partners. Sam and Friends acted as a lead-in to a news show and The Tonight Show Starring Steven Allen. This is where an early version of Kermit made his debut.

The couple married during the run of the show in 1959. Sam and Friends ended two years later.

Jane Henson took some time off puppeteering to take care of the children, but did some work for the children’s television Sesame Street on the side. Though when The Muppets show started in 1976, she designed the puppets, the most well known being Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. The Muppets became popular and generated seven films.

She legally separated from her husband four years before his death. Jim Henson died in 1990 at age 53, but Jane Henson continued to promote his work in the form of The Jim Henson Legacy, which was created in 1992.

The Muppets still survive and the newest Muppets movie, The Muppets… Again! stars Ricky Gervais. It will be released in 2014.

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The Jim Henson Company said in a statement that Jane Henson was “an integral creative and business partner.” The company is owned by Jim and Jane Henson’s five children.