THE HENSON FAMILY
CEO & President, The Jim Henson Company
As CEO and President, Lisa Henson oversees all television and feature film production from early development through post-production. Henson is currently in production on the Netflix series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance and other credits include the Netflix Original Word Party, the groundbreaking marine biology series Splash and Bubbles for PBS KIDS®, the Sprout animated series Dot., based on Randi Zuckerberg’s popular book, and the Netflix Original preschool show Julie’s Greenroom, starring award-winning actress Julie Andrews. Additionally, Henson serves as executive producer on the Emmy®-nominated PBS KIDS® preschool series Sid the Science Kid and Dinosaur Train, the Sprout preschool series Pajanimals and the Hulu original Doozers, a CG animated preschool series inspired by the popular characters from Fraggle Rock, all airing daily in the U.S. and in multiple markets around the world.
Henson is currently serving as executive producer on the upcoming feature film The Happytime Murders starring Melissa McCarthy and Henson Alternative’s Miskreant Puppets, and Sony Pictures Animation’s The Star set to premiere in November 2017. Other feature credits include the Disney film Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, MirrorMask, Muppets Wizard of Oz, and Good Boy! Films currently in development include Frog and Toad, Which Witch with Billy Crystal and the highly anticipated film Fraggle Rock.
Prior to her current position, Henson was President of Columbia Pictures where she oversaw a string of critical and commercial successes including Little Women, Immortal Beloved, and Ang Lee’s Oscar®-winning Sense and Sensibility. Before joining Columbia Pictures, Henson served as an executive at Warner Bros.
Henson graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Folklore and Mythology from Harvard University, where she was the first female president of The Harvard Lampoon.
Board of Directors, The Jim Henson Company
President, The Jim Henson Foundation
Henson Foundation, an organization promoting the art of puppetry in the United States through grants to artists and theater presenters.
As the President of The Jim Henson Foundation, Cheryl is an ardent advocate of contemporary puppetry. Each year, she oversees a competitive granting process to encourage excellence in puppet theater. Since 1982, the Foundation has awarded over 714 grants to more than 320 American puppet artists for the creation of innovative new works, as well as over 113 Presenters grants to theaters in New York City for presenting this work. (For more on The Jim Henson Foundation visit www.hensonfoundation.org)
Cheryl executive produced the award winning biennial Henson International Festival of Puppet Theater from 1992 to 2000. These five festivals presented 136 different productions from 31 countries in 24 theaters throughout New York City. The Festival won both the Drama Desk and the OBIE Award, received coverage from prestigious sources including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, CBS Sunday Morning, and National Public Radio, and is widely acknowledged as having changed the perception of puppet theater today. (For more on these festivals visit www.hensonfestival.org)
Cheryl served as a Vice President of The Jim Henson Company from 1992 until 2000. During this time, she was the liaison between The Jim Henson Company and Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop), the producer of Sesame Street, working closely with production teams on Sesame Street shows both here and abroad. Cheryl believes in the power of puppets to educate as well as entertain; to transcend cultural differences and to communicate in a universal language. Having repurchased the company in 2003 with her siblings, Cheryl is excited to be working with the New York branch of The Jim Henson Company where the renowned Sesame Street Muppets continue to be designed and built.
Cheryl is on the board of the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Georgia which opened “The Worlds of Puppetry Museum” in November 2015. This museum is host to the largest collection of Jim Henson’s puppets, as well as the most extensive collection of global puppetry in the United States. She is also the founder of Darkcrystal.com, a vibrant online destination for everything regarding The Dark Crystal.
Cheryl has led two successful book projects. In 1994, she and the Muppet Workshop created a book to help children explore their imaginations by making puppets out of everyday objects. The Muppets Make Puppets, published by Workman Press, sold more than 100,000 copies. In 2004, she worked with The Jim Henson Company Archives to compile a special book of quotes from her father, his characters and his friends. It’s Not Easy Being Green, and Other Things to Consider, published by Hyperion publishing and recipient of the Quill Book Award for “Health/Self Improvement” in 2005, continues to inspire interest in Jim’s philosophy of creative collaboration.
Cheryl built puppets while in high school for The Muppet Show (1976-1979) and before college on The Dark Crystal (1982). After graduating from Yale (l984) with a degree in History, Cheryl continued to work on films and television specials as a puppet and mask maker. Her work is seen in the film Labyrinth (l986) and The Tale of the Bunny Picnic (1986). In 1987, Cheryl earned a degree in textile design from the Fashion Institute of Technology and returned to Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™ in London where she worked on The Storyteller and Mother Goose Stories. Later, she worked as an Art Director for Song of the Cloud Forest, a segment of The Jim Henson Hour, which was nominated for an Emmy and won a Monitor Award for Best Achievement in Entertainment Series.
Cheryl lives in New York City with her husband and their two children.
Chairman, Board of Directors, The Jim Henson Company
Director, Producer, Writer, Performer
Brian Henson is Chairman of The Jim Henson Company and an award-winning director, producer and writer for film and television. He is also a technological innovator and skilled puppeteer.
Brian regularly joined his father Jim Henson on set when he was a child and by the time he was 17, he was working on projects like the marionettes in the complicated bicycle scene in The Great Muppet Caper, Brian became indispensable on the sets of his father’s productions. In May of 1983, Brian joined his dad on production of the The Muppets Take Manhattan. He was assigned to Faz Fazakas, often referred to as an electro-mechanical wizard, to help with special effects. Some of these involved radio controlled puppets and other animatronic techniques. He was also a performer, working the marionette rig for Scooter’s bicycle ride. Talented in both areas and interested in the work of his father’s Creature Shop, Brian kept an eye out for other opportunities in fantasy film work. In 1984, he moved to London to work on Return to Oz. The film was not a Henson production, and allowed Brian to assemble his own team of animatronic performers that worked with him on several projects, including Jim Henson’s fantasy classic Labyrinth. Brian served as puppet captain for the film while also performing the character Hoggle with Shari Weiser. Brian’s work both inside and outside the company during the 1980s allowed him to establish relationships on both the technical and performing sides of the business, giving him a strong foundation for his leadership role in the following decade.
Following the death of his father in 1990, Brian moved back to America to become the CEO of The Jim Henson Company. In 2009, he became Chairman of the company and his sister Lisa Henson became sole CEO.
Henson is currently directing and producing the feature film The Happytime Murders, starring Melissa McCarthy. Previous credits include, Executive Producer on the television projects Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (which he also directed) and Jim Henson’s Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (which he co-wrote and directed). He also directed Battleground, an Emmy Award-winning episode of Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King for TNT. Henson’s television producing credits include Bear in the Big Blue House, Gulliver’s Travels, Muppets Tonight and Dinosaurs. Henson’s long list of film credits includes The Great Muppet Caper, Return to Oz, Labyrinth, The Witches, Little Shop of Horrors, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island.
Henson has also led the creative and technological innovations of the company, overseeing the groundbreaking work at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, one of Hollywood’s pre-eminent character-building, digital and physical visual effects facilities. He was part of the team that first created and utilized the Henson Performance Control System, a powerful custom-built interface for puppeteers, which won an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science Scientific and Engineering Award in 1992. He has also been leading the Shop’s work with its revolutionary puppeteered animation system, the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio. In 2009, he and his team were awarded a Primetime Emmy Award, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development for this proprietary system that allows performers to puppeteer digital characters in real time.
Along with his many talents in performing, directing and technical innovation, Henson is a master at improvisational comedy. In 2005, he created Puppet Up! – Uncensored, a live puppet improvisational show which was named a top ten “Best Stage Show” by Entertainment Weekly and has toured comedy festivals in Aspen, Las Vegas, Edinburgh, New York and Australia and continues to play venues around the country.
John Henson was born in Greenwich Connecticut to his parents, Jim and Jane Henson. At seven years old, he and his family moved to Bedford NY, where they lived through John’s childhood years.
At sixteen, John, with his friend, John Kahn, bought an old school house in Saugerties, New York. Kahn then trained Henson in the arts of home building, furniture design, and sculpture. These disciplines would become John Henson’s life work.
Throughout his adult life, John worked with his family’s business, The Jim Henson Company, as an accomplished puppeteer. He performed the character Sweetums from 1992 until 2003, and worked as a full-body performer inside of creatures such as the Coca Cola polar bear, among others. After Jim Henson’s death in 1990, John became a shareholder and active board member in the company, and stayed involved in The Jim Henson Company until his death.
His main life passion always returned him to his projects in Saugerties, New York. He became a master in three-dimensional spatial design. His many homes and buildings in Saugerties reflect his unique design aesthetic and his extraordinary attention to detail. Each of his buildings is an art project, an immersive experience balancing function with artistic expression. His exterior, and fine interior work, utilizing a wide range of materials; from wood, to metal, to stone, created rooms of exquisite embracing craftsmanship. At the time of his death, John Henson had owned and extensively developed many properties in Saugerties, New York.
In 1996, John met the love of his life, Gyongyi Katona, and in 1999 they gave birth to their first daughter, Katrina. Their second daughter, Sydney, was born in 2003. John was a loving, playful, and dedicated father, and was very involved in all aspects of his girls’ lives.
John’s family commented, “John had the deepest soul of any man alive; sensitive, artistic, and extremely compassionate, there was no limit to his love.”
A close friend of the family, Arthur Novell described John as, “a most remarkably kind and generous man who gave so much and asked for so little. He infused us with the light of his inquisitive mind, the spirit of his keen intellect and the genius of his talent to create. John will forever be remembered and cherished and talked about and somewhere in the Universe he will be rejoiced.”
John Henson is survived by his wife Gyongyi Henson, and his two daughters, Katrina (15 years) and Sydney (10 years), as well as his siblings, Lisa, Cheryl, Brian, and Heather.
Board of Directors, The Jim Henson Company
Heather Henson is a contemporary puppet artist whose work promotes harmony and healing for the planet through artistic spectacle and discussion. Heather graduated with a degree from Rhode Island School of Design and studied at the California Institute of the Arts. Heather founded IBEX Puppetry in 2000, a multi-platform production company dedicated to promoting the fine art of puppetry in all of its mediums, honoring her work as well as puppetry artists nationally and internationally.
Heather is best known for her Environmental Spectacles: original performances designed to provide a transformative experience for the audience through the use of non-traditional storytelling. Heather blends the disciplines of puppetry, dance, and kiting with evocative sound and light effects to create immersive, interactive presentations that engage all of the senses and awaken the soul.
For the past several years, Heather’s story telling has been heavily impacted by her sense of kinship with the endangered species of the world, particularly Whooping Cranes. First moved by the plight of the Florida wetlands and their inhabitants, she designed the UNIMA Citation of Excellence-winning stage show Panther and Crane. More recently, inspired by the healing partnerships formed between cranes and teams of humans at The International Crane Foundation, she has brought animals and elemental forces of our planet out to frolic and fly among human audiences with her Endangered Species Parade, Celebration of Flight, FLIGHT: A Crane’s Story, and newest educational spectacle production Ajijaack.
Heather Henson’s environmental spectacles advocate for harmonious relationships between all the species and planetary forces of our beautiful Earth.
In addition to Heather’s original environmentally-themed works, she and IBEX Puppetry also produce the Handmade Puppet Dreams (HMPD) film series, a selection of short films by independent puppetry artists exploring their hand made craft specifically for the camera, showcasing a new generation of puppeteers embracing film as their medium of expression. IBEX Puppetry also supports the HMPD touring festival with multiple collections of short films from puppet filmmakers worldwide, providing a venue for these creative and unique films to be seen.
Heather is a Trustee for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and sits on the Board of Directors for The International Crane Foundation and The Jim Henson Company.