John Henson, the youngest son of Muppets creator Jim Henson, board member of the Jim Henson Company and puppeteer, passed away Friday from an unexpected heart attack. He was 48 and according to his sister Cheryl he had no history of heart trouble.
John was a longtime puppeteer and craftsman for the company. Most famously he performed in voice and body suit as the nine-foot tall ogre Sweetums. He portrayed the character in the movies “It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie,” “Muppet Treasure Island,” “Muppets from Space,” and “The Muppets Wizard of Oz.” For a while he played the character in the “MuppetVision 3D” movie/live-action attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, where near the end he would run out into the audience.
He was also a shareholder and board member of the company but he had little to do with the day-to-day operations.
“He was more of an artist,” said Jim Henson biographer Brian Jay Jones. “He renovated a turn-of-the-century schoolhouse, making every surface in the house interesting and beautiful. “He had his dad’s mentality in that he was so detail oriented.”
The Jim Henson Company had this to say on John’s death:
“It is with great sadness that we confirm that John Henson, son of Jim and Jane Henson and brother to Lisa, Cheryl, Brian and Heather, died at age 48 of a sudden massive heart attack on Friday, February 14, while at home with his daughter. John served as a shareholder and board member of The Jim Henson Company. He leaves two daughters, Katrina (15) and Sydney (10) and his wife Gyongyi. A private service is being planned.”
John’s father Jim died at the age of 52 due to complications of pneumonia. His mother died last at the age of 78.
Our thoughts go out to the Henson family.