Jim Henson’s London home gets historical blue plaque on 85th birthday

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Sept. 7 (UPI) — On what would have been his 85th birthday, the late Jim Henson — creator of The Muppets and other children’s programming — was awarded an English Heritage blue plaque in his former London home on Tuesday.

The puppeteer, who also created Fraggle Rock and developed the films The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, bought his Hampstead home on 50 Downshire Hill in 1979. Tuesday, the charity English Heritage announced the blue plaque, which in Britain is a historical marker that denotes a location linked to a famous person, event or site.

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Henson’s former home is near the former Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, where he created many of his puppets. Hampstead is an area of Greater London.

“We are delighted to recognize his connection to London with an English Heritage blue plaque,” Blue Plaques Historian Dr. Rebecca Preston said in a statement Tuesday. “The immense body of work that he created and awards that he won are even more impressive considering his untimely death at the age of just 53.”

Henson moved to London to create The Muppet Show and chose to stay because he was impressed by Britain’s artists and performers, his son Brian told English Heritage.

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“It’s an honor to have Jim Henson’s British home recognized 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,” Henson’s son said in a statement.

Born in Mississippi in 1936, Henson explored art throughout his childhood and answered a job listing for a puppeteer at 17 and relocated to Washington, D.C. He studied graphic design and theater at the University of Maryland, where he met future wife Jane Nebel.

In 1976, The Muppet Show was filmed at Britain’s Elstree Studios and became popular in more than 100 countries.

Henson died of septic shock in New York City in 1990. Programs that he influenced, such as The Muppets and Sesame Street, still air today and Brian Henson is chairman of the board at The Jim Henson Company.

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