Muppets creator Jim Henson’s London home gets blue plaque

Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, has been honoured with a blue plaque at his former London home.

The US puppeteer, acclaimed for his work on Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock and director of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, lived at 50 Downshire Hill in Hampstead from 1979.

He bought his north London house after The Muppet Show was commissioned for British television.

Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, poses with Kermit the Frog in 1988
Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, poses with Kermit the Frog in 1988. He died in 1990. Photograph: AP

It was filmed at Elstree Studios and led to Henson, who died in 1990, making the UK a creative home for many of his subsequent projects, setting up a workshop and office space on the same street as his home.

Jim Henson’s Creature Shop is where the characters from Henson’s many fantasy classics – including The Dark Crystal, The Storyteller and Labyrinth – were created.

His son Brian, who is chairman of the board at The Jim Henson Company, said: “My father moved to London to make The Muppet Show, and then chose to stay because he was so impressed by the UK’s many gifted artists and performers.

“It was with this amazing creative community that he produced ambitious projects including The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and so many more.

“It’s an honour to have Jim Henson’s British home recognised with a blue plaque, knowing that he so admired and respected the talent in London, and that this is the place he called home when creating some of his most memorable productions.”

Dr Rebecca Preston, blue plaques historian at English Heritage, added: “Best remembered as the man behind beloved characters on The Muppet Show and Sesame Street, Henson produced and directed a wide range of television programmes and films, with many of his most successful filmed in the UK.

The former London home of Jim Henson in Hampstead, north London
The former London home of Jim Henson in Hampstead, north London. Photograph: English Heritage/PA

“A talented puppeteer, he was also skilled in storytelling, and had an innate ability to spot and nurture talent. His creations continue to influence popular culture globally. The immense body of work that he created and awards that he won are even more impressive considering his untimely death.”

Henson died from septic shock in New York in May 1990. In July of that year, his life was celebrated with a colourful service at St Paul’s Cathedral for Henson’s British friends and colleagues.

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