James Maury "Jim" Henson (September 24, 1936 – May 16, 1990) was an American puppeteer, artist, cartoonist, inventor, screenwriter, actor, film director, and producer. Born in Greenville, Mississippi, and raised in Leland, Mississippi, and Hyattsville, Maryland, he began developing puppets while attending high school. While he was a freshman at the University of Maryland, College Park, he created Sam and Friends, a five-minute sketch-comedy puppet show that appeared on television. After graduating from the University of Maryland, with a degree in home economics, he produced coffee advertisements and developed experimental films. Feeling the need for more creative output, Henson founded Muppets, Inc., in 1958, (which would later become The Jim Henson Company).
He became famous in the 1970s when he joined the children's educational television program Sesame Street, and there helped develop characters for the series. He also appeared in the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. In 1976, after scrapping plans for a Broadway show, he produced The Muppet Show. He won fame for his creations, particularly Kermit the Frog and Ernie, and he was involved with Sesame Street for over 20 years. He also had frequent roles in Muppets films such as The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper, and created advanced puppets for projects like Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth. During the later years of his life, he also founded the Jim Henson Foundation, and Jim Henson's Creature Shop. He won two Emmy Awards for his work on The Storyteller and The Jim Henson Hour.
On May 16, 1990, Henson died from a bacterial infection (Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome). In the weeks after his death, Henson was celebrated in a wave of tributes. He was posthumously inducted into Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991, and as a Disney Legend in 2011.