Jane Henson, the former wife of Muppets creator Jim Henson, has died at the age of 78 after a long battle with cancer.
Jane Henson met former husband Jim at a puppetry class at the University of Maryland. After graduating in fine arts she worked with him on television show Sam and Friends as a performer, puppet designer and business partner, before collaborating on The Muppet Show.
A statement released by the Jim Henson company described her as “an integral creative and business partner…[who] shared with Jim Henson a unique approach to puppetry.”
Sam and Friends, a pre-cursor to the Muppets that featured an early incarnation of Kermit, first aired in 1955 and ran for six years. The couple married during this time in 1959.
The Muppet Show made its television debut in 1976 and has enjoyed enduring popularity thanks to well-loved characters Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, Gonzo and Fozzie Bear.
Seven Muppet films have been made, with Ricky Gervais due to play the lead in 2014 sequel The Muppets…Again.
Henson separated from her husband in 1986, four years before his death from infection-induced organ failure aged 53.
She continued to promote puppeteer work, and in 1992 founded The Jim Henson Legacy to preserve the artistic contribution of her former husband.