Jane Henson Dies: Muppet Maker’s Wife

April 3, 2013 5:51 am Last Updated: April 3, 2013 11:52 pm

Jane Henson dies: The wife and fellow puppeteer of the late Muppet-maker Jim Henson, Jane Henson, died of cancer at the age of 78.


Jane Henson, then Jane Nebel, met Jim Henson in a puppetry class at the University of Maryland in 1954.

She had to take the course as part of her arts studies; he was starting to work with puppets on local television. He recognized her talent and asked her to work with him, and five years later they were wed.  

She was there from the lesser-known Onky, puppet spokesman for On-Cor Frozen Foods, to the beloved Kermit. As the two worked together to create the Muppets, over the years they also made five children.

The Hensons legally separated in 1986, but never divorced, and as Jim Henson was dying in 1990, Jane Henson told People magazine: “We just talked. There was no division of broken marriage or anything like that. We were just there together.” 

“Some people say you can choose the way you die,” She told People in a 1990 interview after her husband’s death. “I think he would choose to die with as little trouble to everyone as possible.” 

“There was a quality that I could never quite grasp about Jim,” she said. “But he needed to accomplish something. He knew he could make a difference. It’s not as if he knew he was going to die, but I think he realized he wouldn’t be around a lot longer. He didn’t think he’d ever be an old man—and it was time to put things in a place where they’d continue without him.” 

Jane Henson created the Jim Henson Legacy after his death to preserve his work. 


A Muppets blogger on the website Muppet Mindset, Ryan Dosier, met Jane Henson in Illinois in February 2011 as she was hosting a touring exhibit, Jim Henson’s Fantastic World.

He wrote: “She was charming and funny and sweet during the presentation and screening and even after she was great sport to adoring fans coming up to her after the presentation.”

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