The Jim Henson Company

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The Jim Henson Company
FormerlyMuppets, Inc. (1958–1976)
Henson Associates, Inc. (1976–1987)
Jim Henson Productions, Inc. (1987–1997)
FoundedNovember 20, 1958; 63 years ago (1958-11-20)
FoundersJim and Jane Henson
HeadquartersJim Henson Company Lot,
Los Angeles, California
Key people
Brian Henson
Lisa Henson
(President & CEO)
ProductsPuppetry, Animation, Computer graphics, Digital puppetry, Entertainment
OwnerHenson family
(1958–2000, 2003–present)
EM.TV & Merchandising AG
DivisionsJim Henson's Creature Shop
Henson Recording Studios
Henson Alternative

The Jim Henson Company (formerly known as Muppets, Inc., Henson Associates, Inc., and Jim Henson Productions, Inc.; commonly referred to as Henson) is an American entertainment company located in Los Angeles, California. The company is known for its innovations in the field of puppetry, particularly through the creation of Kermit the Frog and the Muppets characters.[1]

Brian Henson serves as chairman, while Lisa Henson serves as CEO. Since 2000, The Jim Henson Company is headquartered at the Jim Henson Company Lot, the historic former Charlie Chaplin Studios, in Hollywood.

The company was established in November 1958 by puppeteers Jim and Jane Henson,[2] and is currently independently owned and operated by their children. Henson has produced many successful television series, including The Muppet Show (1976–1981), Fraggle Rock (1983–1987), and Bear in the Big Blue House (1997–2006); as well, the company designed the Muppet characters for Sesame Street (1969–present).

The company has also produced theatrical films, including The Muppet Movie (1979), The Dark Crystal (1982) and Labyrinth (1986). Henson also operates Jim Henson's Creature Shop, an animatronics and visual effects studio which has created characters and effects for both Henson productions and outside projects.[3] In 1989, the company entered merger negotiations with The Walt Disney Company, which were canceled following Jim Henson's death in 1990.

Subsequently, control of the company was assumed by Henson's children: Lisa, Cheryl, Brian, John, and Heather. In 2000, Henson was sold to German media company EM.TV & Merchandising AG; by the end of that year, however, EM.TV's stock collapsed, and the Henson family re-acquired the company in 2003.

In the interim, EM.TV sold the rights to the Sesame Street Muppets to Sesame Workshop in early January 2001,[4] following a December 2000 announcement.[a] In 2004, Henson sold The Muppets, and the associated trademarks, as well as the series Bear in the Big Blue House to Disney, but retains the remainder of the other characters, program library, and assets.

As of 2022, Brian, Lisa, Cheryl, and Heather Henson maintain control of the company. Jane Henson died in April 2013, and John Henson died in February 2014.

The company also had a label, Henson Alternative, that primarily releases mature and adult oriented productions.


1958 to 1990[edit]

Jim and Jane Henson officially founded Muppets, Inc. on November 20, 1958, three years after Sam and Friends debuted on WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. Aside from Sam and Friends, the majority of its work until 1969 was in advertising; appearances on late-night talk shows; and short "meeting films" primarily for enterprise use, produced from 1965 to 1996. In 1968, the company began designing characters and producing short films for the fledgling Sesame Street, which premiered on NET (succeeded by PBS) in November 1969.

One of the company's first characters to appear regularly on television, Rowlf the Dog, originated in commercials for Purina Dog Chow and became a regular character on The Jimmy Dean Show from 1963 to 1966. During this time, the show's host, Jimmy Dean, refused an opportunity to own 40% of the company, assuming that he did not attain that right. Jim Henson also pitched several different projects to the major American television networks, to little avail. Some ideas became unaired pilots, while others were never produced.

Former name Henson Associates Inc. logo used from 1976 to 1987.

In 1976, producer Lew Grade approached Henson to produce a weekly series in Grade's native United Kingdom; this series became The Muppet Show, produced by Associated Television (ATV) for the ITV network. The success of The Muppet Show led to the Muppets becoming an enduring media franchise. Another company controlled by Grade, ITC Entertainment, originally owned The Muppet Show, among other Henson productions, but Henson acquired the rights to these productions in the 1980s. During this time, Henson formed Jim Henson's Creature Shop, a special effects studio partially responsible for the films The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth; and television series The StoryTeller, Farscape, and Dinosaurs.

Later in his life, Henson produced Fraggle Rock and The Jim Henson Hour. In August 1989, Henson and Disney CEO Michael Eisner began merger discussions reportedly valued at $150 million, which also included a fifteen-year contract for Henson's personal "creative services."[5] However, the deal did not include the rights to the Sesame Street characters, which were owned by Henson, although merchandising revenue was split between Henson and Sesame Workshop.

Also during the negotiations, management of the company's Henson International Television distribution unit based in the UK purchased their unit from the company, leading to the establishment of HIT Entertainment.[6] On May 16, 1990, as negotiations continued, Jim Henson died of toxic shock syndrome. Following Henson's death, neither Disney nor Jim Henson Productions could come to an accord. Negotiations officially ended in December 1990, and Henson remained an independent company.[7][8]

1991 to 1999[edit]

The Henson family assumed management of the company, and Brian Henson was named president, chairman, and CEO in January 1991.[9] In the following years, Henson entered into deals with several companies, including television rights to the Henson library with Disney Channel and Nickelodeon; a record label with BMG Kidz; and a home media label with Buena Vista Home Video.[10] In 1995, Henson entered into an agreement with ABC to produce primetime television series, leading to Muppets Tonight and Aliens in the Family.

Following the releases of The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island by Walt Disney Pictures, Henson formed Jim Henson Pictures with Sony Pictures Entertainment. In 1998, the company signed a deal with Columbia TriStar Home Video to launch Jim Henson Home Entertainment.[11] By 1999, Henson held partial interests in two cable channels: The Kermit Channel (broadcasting in Asia) and Odyssey Network (broadcasting in the United States), both jointly owned with Hallmark Entertainment. After Hallmark (through Crown Media Holdings) assumed full ownership of these networks, the Kermit Channel was discontinued and Odyssey was renamed the Hallmark Channel.

2000 to 2004[edit]

In 2000, the Henson family sold the company to the German media company EM.TV & Merchandising AG, for $680 million.[12][13] That summer, EM.TV sold Henson's stakes in the Odyssey and Kermit cable channels in exchange for an 8.2% stake in Hallmark-controlled Crown Media Holdings.[14] By the end of 2000, after EM.TV subsequently experienced major financial problems, EM.TV sold the company's ownership of the Sesame Street Muppets and Henson's small interest in the Noggin television network to Sesame Workshop,[15] and by early 2001, Henson itself was marked for sale.[16] The Walt Disney Company,[17] Viacom,[18] HIT Entertainment,[19] Aol Time Warner,[20] Haim Saban,[21] Classic Media,[22] as well as Henson management, among others, were all parties reportedly interested in acquiring the company.

In December 2002, a deal was announced in which EM.TV would sell a 49.9% stake in Henson to an investment group led by Dean Valentine, a former executive at Disney and UPN.[23] However, in March 2003, the deal was canceled, citing financial issues on Valentine's part.[24] In May 2003, EM.TV was reportedly nearing an agreement to sell Henson to a consortium between Classic Media and Sesame Workshop (with financing from Sony Pictures Entertainment),[25] until the Henson family re-acquired the company for a closing price of $84 million.[26]

In February 2004, Henson sold the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House to The Walt Disney Company,[27] who subsequently formed The Muppets Studio (known at that time as The Muppets Holding Company). The term "Muppet", likewise, became a legal trademark of Disney; Sesame Workshop retains permission to use the term for its Sesame Street characters under a license from Disney.

2004 to present[edit]

On April 1, 2004, Henson and HIT Entertainment agreed to a five-year global distribution and production deal which included distribution of 440 hours of the company's remaining library including Fraggle Rock,[28] Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas,[29] The Hoobs and Jim Henson's Mother Goose Stories. In addition, the agreement also included the production of new properties, including Frances, in which both companies co-produced and also both co-own the copyright to the series.[30] After that deal expired, Henson entered similar agreements with Lionsgate Home Entertainment and Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment. As well, the company became involved with computer animated projects, including the direct-to-video Unstable Fables series; Sid the Science Kid; Dinosaur Train; and Splash and Bubbles, as well as the puppet series Pajanimals.

Henson later formed Henson Alternative, which specializes in adult content, including the live shows known alternatively as Puppet Improv, Puppet Up!,[31] and Stuffed and Unstrung. In recent years, the Fraggle Rock characters have made several appearances, usually at special events. The characters appeared with Ben Folds Five in the music video for "Do It Anyway";[32] and in 2013, Gobo and Red Fraggle hosted a Fraggle Rock marathon on the Hub Network.

In 2019, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance,[33] a prequel to The Dark Crystal, premiered on Netflix.[34] In 2022, Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock, a reboot of Fraggle Rock, premiered on Apple TV+.


Henson Family[edit]


  • Peter Schube – President and COO of The Jim Henson Company.
  • Lori Don – Executive Vice President and CFO of The Jim Henson Company.
  • Richard Goldsmith – Executive Vice President, Global Distribution, and International Consumer Projects.
  • Joe Henderson – Executive Vice President, Worldwide Administration.
  • Stephanie Schroeder – Executive Vice President, Business Affairs & Legal.
  • Halle Stanford – Executive Vice President of Children's Entertainment.
  • Nicole Goldman – Senior Vice President, Marketing and Publicity.
  • Karen Lee Arbeeny – Vice President, Business Operations, Global Distribution.
  • Faryal Ganjehei – Vice President and Studio Operations at the Henson Recording Studio.
  • Anna Jordan Douglass – Vice President, Digital Development & Interactive Media.
  • Howard Sharp – Vice President of Administration.
  • Peter Brooke – Creative Supervisor at Jim Henson's Creature Shop.

Other staff members[edit]



Original productions[edit]

Production company Title Release date Production partners Distributor
Muppets Inc. Time Piece 1965 Pathé Contemporary Films
The Cube February 23, 1969 NBC
Henson Associates The Muppet Movie June 22, 1979 ITC Entertainment Associated Film Distribution[b]
The Great Muppet Caper June 22, 1981 Universal Pictures[b]
The Dark Crystal December 17, 1982 Universal Pictures[c]
The Muppets Take Manhattan July 13, 1984 TriStar Pictures[d]
Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird August 2, 1985 Children's Television Workshop[e] Warner Bros.
Labyrinth June 27, 1986 Lucasfilm TriStar Pictures
Jim Henson Productions The Witches August 24, 1990 Lorimar Film Entertainment Warner Bros.
Jim Henson's Muppet*Vision 3D May 16, 1991 Disney-MGM Studios
Walt Disney Attractions
The Muppet Christmas Carol December 11, 1992 Walt Disney Pictures Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Gulliver's Travels February 4, 1996 Hallmark Entertainment NBC
Muppet Treasure Island February 16, 1996 Walt Disney Pictures Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Jim Henson Pictures Buddy June 6, 1997 Sony Pictures Releasing
Muppets from Space July 14, 1999 Columbia Pictures[d]
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland October 1, 1999
A Berry Bear Christmas Movie December 7, 1999 Playhouse Disney
Sony Pictures Releasing
Rat October 6, 2000 (UK)
Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story December 2, 2001 Hallmark Entertainment
It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie November 29, 2002 Universal Pictures[d]
Good Boy! October 10, 2003
The Jim Henson Company Five Children and It October 15, 2004
Capitol Films
Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars October 17, 2004 Hallmark Entertainment
The Muppets' Wizard of Oz May 20, 2005 Walt Disney Television
MirrorMask September 30, 2005 Destination Films
Unstable Fables: 3 Pigs and a Baby March 4, 2008
Genius Products
Unstable Fables: Tortoise vs. Hare September 9, 2008
Unstable Fables: The Goldilocks and the 3 Bears Show December 16, 2008
Sid the Science Kid: The Movie March 25, 2013
  • Nine Eye Stone Productions
NCircle Entertainment
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day October 10, 2014 Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Lily the Unicorn June 26, 2015 Amazon Prime Video
Turkey Hollow November 21, 2015 Lifetime
The Star November 17, 2017 Sony Pictures Releasing
Dinosaur Train: Adventure Island April 10, 2021 PBS
Universal Pictures
Pinocchio[40] December 2022
Untitled Labyrinth spin-off sequel[42] TBA Sony Pictures Releasing
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Muppet Man


Jim Henson Television
TypeDivision of The Jim Henson Company
IndustryTelevision production
Founded1955; 67 years ago (1955)
FounderJim Henson
DefunctApril 28, 2006; 16 years ago (2006-04-28)
FateDisbanded and folded into The Jim Henson Company
United States
Area served
ProductsTelevision series

From 1969 to 2000, Henson was contracted to design and create Muppet characters for Sesame Street. With the exception of occasional appearances in the Muppets franchise, the characters were used exclusively for Sesame Street, but Henson legally owned these characters prior to their acquisition by Sesame Workshop. The only exception was Kermit the Frog, who was featured in other projects prior to Sesame Street. Sesame Workshop retains the rights to use any Sesame Street footage featuring the character.

The sale ended any direct affiliation between The Muppets and Sesame Street, although the series retains use of the term "Muppet" under license from Disney. Many of the puppeteers continue to perform with both The Muppets and Sesame Street franchises. While no longer owning the Sesame Street characters, Henson continues to design them.[43] This list excludes pre-2001 Sesame Street co-productions outside the United States.

TV series[edit]

Original productions[edit]
As a contributor[edit]
Related productions[edit]

TV specials[edit]

Original productions[edit]


  • Jim Henson Play-Along Video (1988)[d]
    • Hey, You're As Funny as Fozzie Bear: A Comedy Show Starring Fozzie Bear and You
    • Sing-Along, Dance-Along, Do-Along: Rowlf teaches kids about music.
    • Wow, You're a Cartoonist!
    • Neat Stuff... To Know and Do
    • Jim Henson's Mother Goose Stories (1987–1990)
    • Peek-A-Boo, A Big Surprise for Little People[55]
  • Muppet Sing Alongs
  • Muppet Classic Theater (1994)[d]
  • "Jim Henson's Preschool Collection"[d]
    • "Muppets on Wheels" (1995)
    • "Yes, I Can Learn" (1995)
    • "Yes, I Can Help" (1995)[58]

Web content[edit]

Henson Alternative[edit]

The following list contains projects of The Jim Henson Company under its Henson Alternative banner after EM.TV stops selling the puppet characters of Sesame Street in 2001[k]:


The Puppet Up Franchise[edit]
Title Release date Production partners Distributor
The Happytime Murders (2018)[59] August 24, 2018 STX Entertainment

Television series[edit]

The first eight series are produced under its Henson Alternative banner exclusively in North America before premiering worldwide in 2015.

The Puppet Up Franchise[edit]
Non-Puppet Up Projects[edit]

Stage shows[edit]

The Puppet Up Franchise[edit]

Other productions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ EM.TV acquired the puppet characters of Sesame Street from The Jim Henson Company between February and July 2000. The last JHC project and home media release is Let's Make Music. This is the last and only time that Sesame Workshop collaborated with The Jim Henson Company in 2000.
  2. ^ a b The film's home media, TV, and digital distribution rights were purchased by The Jim Henson Company from ITC Entertainment in August 1984.[35] The film rights were then acquired by Walt Disney Studios upon their parent company's acquisition of the Muppets franchise in 2004.[36] Currently, Universal Pictures handles theatrical distribution[37]—due to prior contractual obligations with the former Associated Film Distribution and ITC—but the film's ownership and copyright are controlled by Disney, with home media reissues of the film branded as a Walt Disney Pictures release.
  3. ^ The film's home media, TV, and digital distribution rights were purchased by The Jim Henson Company from ITC Entertainment in August 1984.[35] Currently, Universal Pictures handles theatrical distribution[38]—due to prior contractual obligations with the former Associated Film Distribution and ITC.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m The film's home media, TV, and digital distribution rights were not purchased by The Jim Henson Company from Walt Disney Studios upon their parent company's acquisition of the Muppets franchise in February 2004.
  5. ^ a b The Sesame Street Muppets only.
  6. ^ After the Muppets' acquisition to Disney in 2005.
  7. ^ The Walt Disney Company acquired Bear in the Big Blue House from The Jim Henson Company in 2004.[44] The transaction included all of the series' characters, television library, copyrights and trademarks.
  8. ^ The Walt Disney Company is filmed on location at Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida to help Animal Jam from The Jim Henson Company in 2002. The transaction included all of the series' characters, television library, copyrights and trademarks by Jim's company itself.
  9. ^ Co-produced by The Jim Henson Company and HIT Entertainment. Both companies co-own the copyright.
  10. ^ His company handles the television production due to the Henson family's deal with Disney—but the MuppetTelevision segment's ownership and copyright are controlled by Disney, without the home media reissues from Disney.
  11. ^ After the 1955-1975 works of Jim Henson's projects and pre-Muppets.


  1. ^ Gritten, David (August 19, 1990). "The Next Muppetmeister?". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
  2. ^ Jones, Jim Henson: The Biography (2013). p. 75.
  3. ^ Eller, Claudia; Philips, Chuck (May 12, 1995). "Sony Nears Deal With Jim Henson Productions". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
  4. ^ "Sesame Street". Archived from the original on May 15, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  5. ^ Swansburg, John (December 6, 2013). "Muppet Man". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  6. ^ "HIT Entertainment PLC History". Company Profiles. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  7. ^ Zonana, Victor F. (April 18, 1991). "Henson Heirs Allege Disney Is Illegally Using Muppets". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
  8. ^ Citron, Alan (December 14, 1990). "Miss Piggy and Friends Won't Get Together With Mickey and Minnie". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
  9. ^ Willman, David (July 26, 1992). "Jim Henson's Children Put Together a String of Big Deals to Keep Alive". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
  10. ^ Stevenson, Richard W. (December 19, 1991). COMPANY NEWS; In Thaw, Henson and Disney Strike Deal on Home Videos. New York Times.
  11. ^ Sandler, Adam (May 18, 1998). "Col TriStar, Henson ink vid pact". Variety. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
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  13. ^ Hofmeister, Sallie (February 22, 2000). "German Firm to Buy Henson for $680 Million". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
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  21. ^ "Muppet Central News - Billionaire Saban wants to buy the Muppets". October 8, 2002. Retrieved August 17, 2019.
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  29. ^ Kiefer, Halle (October 21, 2019). "Human Jug-Playing Otter Bret McKenzie to Adapt Jim Henson's Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas". Vulture. Vulture. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  30. ^ "The Jim Henson Company and HIT Entertainment Establish Worldwide Distribution And Production Venture" (PDF). The Jim Henson Company and HIT Entertainment. April 1, 2004.
  31. ^ Logan, Brian (August 16, 2013). "Puppet Up! Uncensored – Edinburgh festival 2013 review". The Guardian. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  32. ^ Zakarin, Jordan (September 18, 2012). "Ben Folds Five and Fraggle Rock Team for 'Do It Anyway' Extravaganza (Video)". The Hollywood Reporter. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  33. ^ Montgomery, Hugh. "The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance review: Four stars". BBC. BBC. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  34. ^ Collis, Clark (September 21, 2019). "The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance premiering on Netflix in August: See the exclusive images". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  35. ^ a b Jay Jones, Brian (2013). "Chapter 12: Twists and Turns". Jim Henson: The Biography. Ballantine Books (Random House). pp. 374–375. ISBN 978-0345526113.
  36. ^ Thompson, Simon (July 25, 2019). "Remembering 'The Muppet Movie' At 40 With Gonzo". Forbes. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  37. ^ "Make the Rainbow Connection Again as 'The Muppet Movie' Returns to the Big Screen in Honor of its 40th Anniversary on July 25 and 30". prnewswire. Fathom Events. June 3, 2019. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  38. ^ "The Dark Crystal Returns to Movie Theaters". Fathom Events.
  39. ^ "Film releases". Variety Insight. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  40. ^ Lang, Brent (October 22, 2018). "Guillermo del Toro Directing 'Pinocchio' for Netflix". Variety. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
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  42. ^ Fleming, Mike (May 26, 2020). "Scott Derrickson Set To Direct 'Labyrinth' Sequel For TriStar Pictures; Maggie Levin To Write Script". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  43. ^ James, Meg (February 18, 2004). "Kermit Is Now Part of Magic Kingdom". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
  44. ^ "The Walt Disney Company And The Jim Henson Company Sign Agreement For Disney To Buy The Muppets And Bear In The Big Blue House". The Walt Disney Company and The Jim Henson Company. February 17, 2004.
  45. ^ Burlingame, Russ. "Craig Bartlett on the Dinosaur Train Movie". CB ComicBook. Retrieved April 18, 2021.
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  50. ^ Alexandra Del Rosario (August 12, 2020). "'Harriet The Spy' Kids Animated Series Starring Beanie Feldstein, Jane Lynch & Lacey Chabert Ordered By Apple". Deadline.
  51. ^ Heldman, Breanne L. "Dance Your Cares Away! Apple TV+'s Fraggle Rock Reboot Teaser Recreates the Original Intro". People.
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  53. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (December 9, 2016). "'Top Puppet': NBC Orders Reality Special From 'The Voice' Producers, Muppet Creators & Craig Ferguson". Deadline. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
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  57. ^ Maes, Nancy. (March 7, 1996) Tish Hinojosa's Music Bridges Two Cultures. Chicago Tribune. Accessed on November 26, 2013.
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External links[edit]