Jane Henson, the co-creator of The Muppets, has died at the age of 78, following a battle with cancer, Sky News has reported. Though her husband Jim was perhaps the better known of the pair, Jane was described by the Jim Henson Company as his “partner in marriage and Muppets.” Although Jane and Jim separated in 1986, the couple continued to share their passion for the company, as well as its vision. Jim died in 1990 at the age of 53 and two years later, Jane founded the Jim Henson Legacy, in order to preserve his artistic creations.

Though Jane was modest about her involvement in the success of The Muppets, others argued that in fact, she played a very important role in its development. Whilst Jane often said that Jim “wanted to leave the world a better place,” Arthur Novell, a trustee of the Jim Henson Legacy, said “they both did.” Jane and Jim met at a puppetry class at the University of Maryland and became creative and business partners. Little could they have known of the impending global popularity of their puppet creations. Their partnership went on to create shows such as Sesame Street, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Fraggle Rock and the sci-fi series Farscape.

Now, the company is run by the couple’s children. Brian is the chairman, Lisa the chief executive and Cheryl is president of the Jim Henson Foundation, which aims to promote puppetry throughout the USA. A statement from the company said that the Hensons shared “a unique approach to puppetry that is joyful and sophisticated.” 

Jim Henson
Bert & Ernie: Two of Jim Henson and jane Henson's best-known creations