Jim Henson Net Worth at Death – Salary, Income, Earnings

Jim Henson Net Worth 

Jim Henson had an estimated net worth of $100 million at death. Jim Henson was an American puppeteer best known for creating TV characters, including the Muppets, and for his work on the popular children’s show ‘Sesame Street.’ He earned most of his income from his movies and television programs. 

Jim Henson, the Muppets’ creator, began working as a puppeteer in college, creating characters such as Kermit the Frog. He was a producer on Sesame Street, a popular children’s show that debuted in 1969, and he founded The Muppet Show in 1976. The Muppet Movie, the first of many films starring Henson’s well-known characters, was released in 1979. Henson’s work earned him several honors, including Emmys, Grammys, and a Peabody Award. On May 16, 1990, he died of pneumonia.

To calculate the net worth of Jim Henson, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Jim Henson
Net Worth: $100 Million
Monthly Salary: $1 Million
Annual Income: $12 Million
Source of Wealth: Puppeteer, Film director, Television producer, Screenwriter, Voice Actor, Film Producer, Television Director, Actor, Cartoonist, Inventor

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Early Years

Henson was born in Greenville, Mississippi, on September 24, 1936. Henson was drawn to the arts at a young age. His puppetry was encouraged by his maternal grandmother, a painter, quilter, and needleworker. Henson was performing puppetry for audiences, including his fellow Cub Scouts, long before he was a teen. His youth was also spent experimenting with various visual mediums, such as television, which he adored. Burr Tillstrom, of the TV show Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, was a major influence on him as a child.

TV Career and ‘Sesame Street’

Henson’s first foray into televised puppetry occurred while he was still in high school. He began performing with his puppets on a Saturday morning program in Washington, D.C. Henson had landed a bi-weekly spot on a local NBC affiliate, Sam and Friends, by his freshman year at the University of Maryland in 1955. In 1958, the same year Henson founded the Jim Henson Company, the show received a local Emmy Award. Sam and Friends gave birth to the Muppets, which included an early version of Kermit the Frog.

The puppet characters’ popularity grew, and they soon appeared in TV commercials, including one for Wilkins Coffee. Wheel Stealer, a Henson puppet character who snatched a family’s snacks in a food commercial and later chomped on an IBM computer in a TV commercial, was an early incarnation of the beloved blue Cookie Monster. Rowlf the Dog, the first Muppet to gain national attention, went from appearing in Purina commercials to playing a sidekick on The Jimmy Dean Show in 1963. Rowlf was created with the help of puppeteer Frank Oz and puppet builder Don Sahlin. Henson’s expanding puppeteering team has also appeared on The Today Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.

Henson began experimenting with short films around the same time, including the Academy Award-nominated Time Piece in 1965. Then, in 1969, Henson collaborated with Children’s Television Workshop to create the now-classic PBS children’s show Sesame Street. According to the theme song, Henson “swept the clouds away” with his original characters, which included Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Snuffulupagus, and Elmo. On Sesame Street, Henson honed his talent for engaging children and making learning fun through puppetry and animated shorts.

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Muppets and ‘The Storyteller’

But Henson’s biggest claim to fame on television came in the 1970s, with the debut of The Muppet Show. Surprisingly, Henson had a difficult time getting the show funded in the United States, but he eventually found the necessary support with London-based TV producer Lord Lew Grade. Henson and his team created Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Animal, Gonzo, Scooter, and the rest of The Muppet Show ensemble in 1975 at Grade’s ATV Studios. The hit series debuted in 1976, with Kermit as the host. Soon after, celebrity guests such as Liza Minnelli, Elton John, Vincent Price, and Steve Martin joined the show. Henson’s show drew a whopping 235 million viewers from over 100 countries and earned three Emmy Awards.

The Muppet Show also paved the way for Henson’s feature films, including The Muppet Movie in 1979, and an animated TV spin-off, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, which won four consecutive Emmys (Outstanding Animated Program). But Henson’s TV puppetry was not limited to his original Muppets. He created the TV shows Fraggle Rock, The Jim Henson Hour, and Jim Henson’s The Storyteller in the 1980s. Other major motion pictures followed, such as 1982’s The Dark Crystal, a groundbreaking film that combined puppetry and animatronics, and 1986’s Labyrinth, produced by George Lucas and starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly.

Death and Legacy

Muppet*Vision 3D, a multimedia attraction installed at Disney theme parks in California and Florida, was Henson’s most recent project. The project was not expected to be Henson’s last, but he died on May 16, 1990, at the age of 53, following a brief and unexpected bout of streptococcus pneumonia. A musical puppet performance was part of his moving yet celebratory funeral. Big Bird himself paid his respects and sang “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” The colossal yellow puppet also thanked Kermit the Frog, who is widely regarded as Henson’s Muppet alter ego.

Henson’s legacy as a director, producer, writer, puppeteer, and innovator will live on for decades, thanks in large part to his late wife of more than 30 years, Jane (Nebel) Henson. (Henson and Jane met in college and married in 1959; they divorced in 1986 but never married again.)

In 1992, Jane founded the Jim Henson Legacy, which is dedicated to preserving and perpetuating her late husband’s contributions to the world. Jane also assisted in the management of the Jim Henson Foundation, which was founded in 1982 by Jim and the couple’s daughter, Cheryl. The Jim Henson Foundation is dedicated to the advancement of American puppet theater. Jane died at the age of 78 on April 2, 2013. Henson’s other daughter, Lisa, is the current CEO of the Jim Henson Company, and his son, Brian, who is also a puppeteer, serves as a company chair.

The Henson family isn’t alone in carrying on their father’s dream: The Walt Disney Company introduced a whole new generation of kids and parents to Henson’s puppet pals in 2011, with the blockbuster film The Muppets.

“This Jim Henson may be gone, but maybe he’s still here too, inside us, believing in us,” said young Robin the Frog, Kermit’s nephew, in a Muppets tribute to Henson shortly after his death.

Further Reading

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