John Henson died at his home in Saugerties, New York on Friday. According to his sister Cheryl Henson, he died of a sudden heart attack after building an igloo with his daughter. Henson was 48.
John Henson was the fourth child of the late Muppets creator, Jim Henson and Jane Nabel Henson. He appeared in Sesame Street and Numerosity during his childhood years and went on to follow in his father’s footsteps with a career in puppetry. In the late 1980’s Henson replaced Richard Hunt as the body suit for Sweetums, a hairy ogre with bushy eyebrows. He continued to play the character for more than ten years. The last performance he did as the character was in 2005 for The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz TV movie.
Henson also appeared as the Coca-Cola Polar Bear that skied and sled at Coca-Cola PR events.
Aside from taking on roles in movies and television, Henson also appeared as Sweetums on several live Muppets events, such as the unveiling of Kermit the Frog’s star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame, the musical tribute to his father, and the MuppetFest weekend. Henson was also a board member and a stakeholder at the Jim Henson Company, together with his brother and 3 sisters.
Unknown to many, Henson was also a sculptor. In the 1980’s Henson, together with John Kahn, created “The Great Hot Air Balloon Circus”, a metal and wood hot air balloon sculpture that consisted of Muppets figures made of PVC. The sculpture was placed in the old headquarters of the Jim Henson Company. More of his brass sculptures can be found at the company’s New York offices.
The Muppets will be back in cinemas in March with the upcoming movie entitled Muppets Most Wanted.
John Henson left his wife Gyongyi and 2 daughters Katrina, 15, and Sydney, 10. The family is planning a private service for the late puppeteer.
Watch Muppets Most Wanted Trailer
Image via YouTube