Where Are Jim Henson’s Kids Now?

With Disney+’s ‘Jim Henson: Idea Man’ living up to its title by exploring all aspects of this titular creative genuis’ life to celebrate his accomplishments, we get a documentary unlike any other. That’s because it incorporates not just archival audio-video footage but also exclusive interviews with loved ones to underscore the way he thrived as an animator, filmmaker, and puppeteer. Amongst those to thus feature in this original were actually his children, all of whom indicated a dark side to their father’s work and how it fell into his home life as he wasn’t always present.

Lisa Henson is a Part of the Entertainment Industry Too

Although born on May 9, 1960, as the eldest of Jane and Jim Henson’s five kids, Lisa was reportedly primarily only raised by the former owing to the latter’s busy schedule at every step of the way. The truth is she has never shied away from conceding that this mastermind behind the Muppets was a kind and loving dad, but the incredibly hectic life he led did cause a lot of problems at home. He couldn’t spend enough time with his brood no matter how hard he tried as he often ended up carrying work with him, also resulting in frequent fights with his wife despite her unwavering support.

Nevertheless, as the years passed, Lisa understood their situation at a deeper level and even came to respect how her father quietly supported the entire family in their own endeavors. “My dad did notice, like, what we were good at,” she admitted in the aforementioned film, following which he just backed — never pushed — her to be the television executive she was born to be. This, combined with the support of other family members, is what enabled her to graduate from Harvard University with degrees in Folklore and Mythology before evolving into a true professional.

Lisa was actually the first female president of The Harvard Lampoon, only to then serve as an executive at Warner Bros. for a decade prior to joining Columbia Pictures as President of Production. However, at 64, she is now the proud CEO of The Jim Henson Company, overseeing everything from early development to post-production for all the films/TV shows under its banner. Her credits include Emmy-winning ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance,’ Emmy-nominated ‘Sid the Science Kid,’ plus at least 50 other originals like ‘Dinosaur Train,’ ‘Harriet the Spy,’ ‘Zero Effect,’ ‘The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz,’ ‘The Star,’ ‘The Portable Door,’ plus the reboot of ‘Fraggle Rock.’

Cheryl Henson is a Puppetry Advocate and Funder

Born on August 7, 1961, as Jane and Jim Henson’s second born, Cheryl actually developed a passion for the puppetry arts at an early age upon seeing the kind of work her father did first-hand. Though her interest was more along the lines of building as well as designing than actual puppeteering, so she kickstarted her career in this field for ‘The Muppet Show’ while still in high school. She even made some characters for her father’s 1982 film ‘The Dark Crystal’ before graduating from Yale University in 1984 with a Bachelor’s in History, only to continue working under him.

But alas, upon garnering enough experience, Cheryl chose to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology for a degree in Textile Design, following which she sold her own fabrics while still collaborating with her father. In fact, as years passed, she was often hired to work on special projects at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in both London and New York, and she even served as the Art Director for an episode of ‘The Jim Henson Hour.’ Yet, building Hugo the Hornet as Charlotte Hornets’ NBA team’s first mascot in 1988, plus serving as Vice President of The Jim Henson Company from 1992 to 2000, are arguably some of her favorite past career moments.

We say past because today, at 62, Cheryl is just on the Board of Directors at The Jim Henson Company, all the while proudly holding the title of President of The Jim Henson Foundation. The latter’s primary aim is reportedly to promote the art of puppetry across the US through grants to help artists and theaters thrive, which this New York-based happily married mother of two is extremely passionate about. Then, to carry on her father’s legacy in another way, the Center for Puppetry Arts museum’s board member has also published two books honoring his work: ‘The Muppets Make Puppets’ and ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green, and Other Things to Consider.’

Brian Henson Has Followed His Father’s Footsteps

Born on November 3, 1963, as the middle child yet first son of Jane and Jim Henson’s brood, Brian always knew his interests aligned with his dad’s despite his being more technologically advanced. He thus assisted in the production of ‘The Great Muppet Caper’ (1981) while still in high school at 17, only to then specialize in marionette work while also managing special effects for ‘The Muppets Take Manhattan’ (1984). So, it comes as no surprise he subsequently looked for more opportunities outside of the Jim Henson banner too, just to relocate to London, England, in 1984 upon landing a significant puppeteering role in ‘Return of Oz.’

Brian followed this up by operating special effects for ‘Santa Claus: The Movie’ and performing in ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ all the while still working with his dad on projects like ‘Labyrinth’ plus ‘The Story Teller.’ However, after Jim sadly passed away in 1990, he moved back to take up the mantle of CEO at the Jim Henson Company, which is a position he held until his elder sister Lisa was picked as his successor in 2009. Therefore, since then, he has proudly been serving as this organization’s Chairman of the Board while also expanding his wings as a director, producer, puppeteer, as well as voice actor.

As per records, aside from once having helmed the groundbreaking work at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and managed the company’s technological innovations, Brian even created Puppet Up! – Uncensored. This latter project is actually a live puppet improvisational show he’d created on his own in 2005, starring the Miskreant puppet troupe, and it continues to tour venues across the nation to this day. And today, at 60, he has over 50 producer, 35 voice acting/puppeteering, plus 18 directorial credits under his belt. This New York-based happily married father of one’s most recent work was actually ‘Tall Poppy’ (2022), with his upcoming being ‘Which Witch?’

John Henson Sadly Passed Away in 2014

Although born on April 25, 1965, as the second youngest child of Jane and Jim Henson, John’s early years were a bit different than that of his siblings because he had a learning disability — dyslexia. In fact, according to the aforementioned documentary, he was even nonverbal for his first few years, which is what pushed his father to more children-friendly performances and ultimately ‘Sesame Street.’ However, as time passed by, he was able to not only lead a normal life with the support of his loved ones but also train as a home builder, furniture designer, puppeteer, and sculpturer, which became his life.

In 1992, John even took over the performance of Muppet’s ‘Sweetums’ upon the unfortunate demise of Richard Hunt, following which he dabbled in writing, producing, building, and animating too. His credits hence include ‘Muppets Tonight,’ ‘Zelda Catwoman of Queens,’ ‘Muppets from Space,’ ‘It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie,’ and ‘The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz,’ along with many more. But alas, everything changed on February 14, 2014, as the 48-year-old passed away from a heart attack in his Saugerties, New York, home — he left behind his four loving siblings, his caring wife Gyongyi Henson, and their two young daughters, Katrina and Sydney.

Heather Henson is a Trie Puppet Artist and Enthusiast

Born on December 19, 1970, as the youngest of Jane and Jim Henson’s adorable clan of five, Heather was encouraged to follow her dreams from an early age — exactly like all her siblings. It just so happened that her passion turned out to be puppet creation, theater-making, plus performance, which is why she attended both the Rhode Island School of Design and the California Institute of the Arts. Only then did she establish her own multi-platform puppetry production company by the name of IBEX Puppetry in 2000, which reportedly reaches artists/audiences nationally as well as internationally.

In fact, in addition to producing the Handmade Puppet Dreams (HMPD) film series, Heather and her organization also support the HMPD touring festival, which provides a platform for puppet filmmakers worldwide. As for her vocation as an artist, it appears as if she kickstarted her career with a few appearances in her father’s originals, just to gradually find her calling as an environmental spectacle creator. Her storytelling is actually heavily influenced by her passion for endangered species,’ so she tends to blend puppetry, dance, and advocacy in her tales to make the audience feel empathy.

Therefore, at the age of 53, Heather currently serves as a contemporary puppet artist, all the while also having a seat on the Board of Directors for The International Crane Foundation and The Jim Henson Company. From what we can tell, she is even a Board Member for The Jim Henson Legacy as well as the Jim Henson Foundation and is a Trustee of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Connecticut. We should mention all four Henson siblings now have complete control of their father’s company, which they bought back in 2003, three years after the German media company EM.TV & Merchandising AG had purchased it.

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