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‘Muppet’ puppeteer passes away

Jim Henson's son, John, played Sweetums the ogre
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Greg David, February 18, 2014 8:44:00 AM

Sweetums is without a puppeteer. John Henson, the son of Muppets creator Jim — and the man behind the Muppets ogre Sweetums — has passed away. He was 48.

According to news outlets, Henson died Friday of a heart attack. His passing was announced on the Jim Henson Company’s Facebook page, which noted that at 16, he was trained — by a friend in Saugerties, NY — to build homes, design furniture and create sculptures, trades that served him well when he began working for his father.

Henson was an accomplished puppeteer for The Jim Henson Company, performing as the massive monster Sweetums from 1992 until 2003 in Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets Tonight, The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz and It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie. His other full-body puppet work included that of the Coca-Cola polar bear.

The Facebook page noted Henson became an active board member and shareholder in the family business after Jim’s death in 1990.

Several homes and buildings in the Saugerties area were designed by Henson; each is described as “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.”

“John had the deepest soul of any man alive; sensitive, artistic, and extremely compassionate, there was no limit to his love,” the social media site stated.

Henson is survived by his wife, Gyongyi, and daughters Katrina and Sydney.


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