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Jane Henson with Kermit the Frog and Yorick.

Jane Henson Chicken Liver

Jane Nebel building Chicken Liver for Sam and Friends.

Jim jane wilkins wontkins

Jim and Jane performing Wilkins and Wontkins.


Jim, with Jane at right hand, performing Ernie.

Jane Henson (née Nebel; June 16, 1934 — April 2, 2013) was an artist and puppeteer who helped establish the Muppets as a puppet act with Jim Henson as his first performing partner in the 1950s. They later married on May 28, 1959[1] and had five children: Lisa, Cheryl, Brian, John, and Heather Henson.

Nebel and Henson met in a puppetry course at the University of Maryland, College Park, where they were both undergraduates. At the time, Nebel was a senior majoring in art education and Henson was a freshman studying to become a commercial artist.[2] She later attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. where she practiced pottery, wood carving, oil painting, and sculpture while working on her Masters degree in Fine Arts.[3]

Though Jane Henson was one of Jim Henson's first puppeteering partners, she seldom supplied voices.[4] She sometimes did voices on Sam and Friends, including Bernice on a few occasions, but they were so rare that she didn't remember doing them when talking about the subject.[5] Another exception was in the Sesame Street song "Women Can Be." She performed considerably less after the birth of the couple's second child, Cheryl.[6] However, she would occasionally serve as a background performer in various projects afterwards, with her last known performance occurring in episode 103 of The Muppet Show. While no longer serving as onscreen performer, she would continue to oversee Muppeteer workshops for many years.

Jim and Jane Henson separated in 1986, but remained close until Jim's death in 1990.

In recent years, Jane Henson was a part of the Jim Henson Legacy Board of Directors. As president of The Jane Henson Foundation, she has donated to Sesame Workshop, provided funding to the Jim Henson's Fantastic World exhibit, and The Carter Center founded by U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Jane passed away on April 2, 2013. The film Muppets Most Wanted was dedicated to her and Jerry Nelson.

Performing credits[]

Additional credits[]


  1. Jim Henson's Red Book Entry
  2. Jim Henson: Creator of Dreams
  3. Washington Evening Star "Career Girl" by Ruth Dean, Jan 18, 1959
  4. Henson, Jane MuppetFest Memories: Day Two
  5. Shemin, Craig Sam and Friends: The Story of Jim Henson's First Television Show, page 70.
  6. St. Pierre, Stephanie. The Story of Jim Henson, Dell Publishing, 1991, p. 45.

External links[]