James Maury "Jim" Henson (September 24, 1936 – May 16, 1990) was an American puppeteer, artist, cartoonist, inventor, screenwriter, actor, film director and producer. Born in Greenville, Mississippi and raised in Leland, Mississippi and Hyattsville, Maryland, he began developing puppets while attending high school.
While he was a freshman at the University of Maryland, College Park, he created Sam and Friends, a five-minute puppet show that appeared on television. After graduating from the University of Maryland, with a degree in home economics, he produced coffee advertisements and developed experimental films. Feeling the need for more creative output, Henson founded Muppets, Inc., which would later become The Jim Henson Company, in 1958.
He became famous in the 1970s when he joined the children's educational television program Sesame Street, and there helped developed characters for the series. He also appeared in the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live.