Henson began developing puppets while attending high school.

Henson was so grateful for this break that he offered Jimmy Dean a 40% interest in his production company, but Dean declined, stating that Henson deserved all the rewards for his own work, a decision of conscience Dean never regretted.

His nine-minute experimental film, Time Piece, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 1966.

The show was a financial success but, after graduating from college, he began to have doubts about going into a career performing with puppets. Despite the success of Sam and Friends, Henson spent much of the next two decades working in commercials, talk shows, and children's projects before being able to realize his dream of the Muppets as "entertainment for everybody".

He spent several months in Europe, where he was inspired by European puppet performers who looked on their work as an art form. The popularity of his work on Sam and Friends in the late 1950s led to a series of guest appearances on network talk and variety shows.

A puppetry class offered in the applied arts department introduced him to the craft and textiles courses in the College of Home Economics, and he graduated in 1960 with a BS in home economics.

As a freshman, he had been asked to create Sam and Friends, a five-minute puppet show for WRC-TV.

James Maury "Jim" Henson (September 24, 1936 – May 16, 1990) was an American puppeteer, artist, cartoonist, inventor, screenwriter, and filmmaker who achieved international fame as the creator of the Muppets.

He was born in Greenville, Mississippi and raised in Leland, Mississippi and Hyattsville, Maryland.

He won the Emmy Award twice for his involvement in The Storyteller and The Jim Henson Hour.

Henson died of toxic shock syndrome on May 16, 1990 at age 53, twenty hours after experiencing a medical emergency; an unexpected event that was widely lamented in the media and entertainment industry.

He won fame for his creations, particularly Kermit the Frog, Rowlf the Dog, and Ernie, and he was involved with Sesame Street for over 20 years.