James Maury "Jim" Henson (September 24, 1936 - May 16, 1990), was the most widely known puppeteer in American television history. He is best known as the creator of The Muppets and was the creator, producer, director and a puppeteer on The Dark Crystal. Aside from directing and producing, Henson was the puppeteer of Jen in addition to performing SkekSo and SkekZok.
After the success of The Muppet Show and The Muppet Movie, Henson began to develop a darker and more realistic fantasy film that did not feature the Muppets and displayed "a growing, brooding interest in mortality." With 1982's The Dark Crystal, which he co-directed with Frank Oz and also co-wrote, Henson said he was "trying to go toward a sense of realism—toward a reality of creatures that are actually alive [where] it's not so much a symbol of the thing, but you're trying to [present] the thing itself." To provide a visual style distinct from the Muppets, the puppets in The Dark Crystal were based on conceptual artwork by Brian Froud.
When Henson died on May 16, 1990, his sudden death resulted in an outpouring of public and professional affection. There have since been numerous tributes and dedications in his memory.