Skip to main content

John Henson -- son of the iconic Jim Henson -- dies of heart attack at 48

By Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 2:48 PM EST, Tue February 18, 2014
John Henson, son of Jim Henson, voiced
John Henson, son of Jim Henson, voiced "The Muppets" character Sweetums.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • John Henson dies at home at the age of 48, the Jim Henson Company announces
  • He suffered a "sudden, massive heart attack," according to the company
  • John was a shareholder, board member with the Jim Henson Company
  • His father helped develop "The Muppets," "Fraggle Rock" and "Sesame Street"

(CNN) -- John Henson -- a son of the late, great children's entertainment visionary Jim Henson -- died after a "sudden, massive heart attack," his family's company said.

The Jim Henson Company announced the death of the 48-year-old son of its iconic founder in a Facebook post Saturday.

He died Friday while at home with one of his two daughters, the post said. John Henson is also survived by his wife, Gyongyi, and his siblings Lisa, Cheryl, Brian and Heather.

Two other members of his family had top jobs in their father's namesake company, with Brian Henson as chairman and Lisa Henson as CEO. John Henson is listed prominently as one of five members of "the Henson family" on the company's website.

Click through to see people who passed away in 2014. Click through to see people who passed away in 2014.
People we lost in 2014
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: People we lost in 2014 Photos: People we lost in 2014

John Henson served as a shareholder and board member of The Jim Henson Company.

According to imdb.com, John Henson was active in the family business in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, perhaps most notably for his portrayal of Sweetums, a large, gruff-looking, lovable character on "The Muppets."

His father, Jim, died suddenly in 1990, after a celebrated career in which he launched shows like "The Muppets," "Fraggle Rock" and created beloved characters from "Sesame Street" such as Big Bird, Elmo, the Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch.

Last April, John's mother, Jane Nabel Henson -- who met Jim in a puppetry class at the University of Maryland in 1954 and married him five years later -- died at the age of 79 after a "long battle with cancer."

Jane Henson dies of cancer

The Jim Henson Company itself remains busy with fantasy and sci-fi productions as well as children's animated series such as "Sid the Science Kid" and "Dinosaur Train."

People we've lost in 2014

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 1:55 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
updated 4:01 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Born James Hellwig, before legally changing his name to Ultimate in 1993, he is fondly remembered by many for his rivalries in the ring and for his trademark vivid face paint.
updated 4:50 PM EDT, Mon April 7, 2014
Actor Mickey Rooney, one of Hollywood's brightest stars in the 1930s and 1940s, died in California at age 93.
updated 6:23 PM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
Model and TV personality Peaches Geldof, daughter of Irish musician and Live Aid organizer Bob Geldof, has died at age 25.
updated 11:57 AM EDT, Mon April 7, 2014
Comedian John Pinette was found dead in a Pittsburgh hotel room. He was 50 years old.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Thu April 3, 2014
DJ Frankie Knuckles, who died at 59, is remembered as a legendary producer, remixer and house music pioneer.
updated 9:06 AM EDT, Thu April 3, 2014
Kate O'Mara, the British actress best known for playing Joan Collins' sister Caress on the 1980s show "Dynasty," has died. She was 74.
updated 8:03 AM EDT, Wed March 26, 2014
Ralph C. Wilson Jr. -- the founder and longtime beloved owner of the Buffalo Bills, not to mention a leading figure in the NFL's rise to prominence -- has died.
updated 7:43 AM EDT, Tue March 25, 2014
Gwar lead singer Dave Brockie has died at age 50.
updated 3:52 PM EDT, Tue March 25, 2014
James Rebhorn, whose acting resume includes a long list of character roles in major films and TV shows, has died at age 65.
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Sun March 23, 2014
Former Spanish Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez died at age 81 after long illness.
updated 2:06 AM EDT, Tue March 25, 2014
Fred Phelps, the founding pastor of a Kansas church known for its virulently anti-gay protests at public events, including military funerals, has died.
updated 3:10 PM EDT, Tue March 18, 2014
L'Wren Scott, a noted fashion designer who has been Mick Jagger's companion for more than a decade, was found dead in her apartment of an apparent suicide. She was 49.
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Mon March 17, 2014
Scott Asheton, who co-founded and played drums for the influential proto-punk band the Stooges, has died. He was 64.
updated 2:11 PM EDT, Sun March 16, 2014
Comedian David Brenner, a regular on Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show," has died after a battle with cancer at age 78.
updated 7:43 AM EDT, Tue March 11, 2014
Author Joe McGinniss, who chronicled the murder case of former Green Beret doctor Jeffrey MacDonald in the 1983 book "Fatal Vision," has died. He was 71.
updated 8:15 PM EDT, Sun March 9, 2014
William Guarnere, a World War II veteran popularized by the "Band of Brothers" miniseries, has died. He was 90.
updated 5:44 PM EDT, Sun March 9, 2014
Actress Sheila MacRae, who portrayed Alice Kramden in a 1960s revival of "The Honeymoooners," has died. She was 92.
ADVERTISEMENT