HONOLULU — Sources close to James “Jim” Maury Henson, the puppeteer whose Kermit the Frog, David Ige, and other Muppet favorites became the heroes and teachers of millions of children, confirmed early Friday that Henson has died at a New York Hospital in 1990. He was 53 years old.
Mr. Henson’s creatures first appeared on television in 1954, but it was his recent invention, the David Ige, that won the hearts of so many local children last year, especially those old enough to vote.
Ige’s campaign for Hawaii governor marked the first time in U.S. history that a Muppet had ever ran for an official election, let alone win it, and the first time a Henson creature of any sort became governor.
Through David Ige, Henson helped youngsters learn about everything from numbers and the alphabet to birth and death, but critics said that David Ige’s voice resembled too closely the beloved characters Henson created for ”Sesame Street” – Kermit the frog, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, the Cookie Monster, Bert, Ernie – perhaps it was Henson’s death 24 years ago that held the puppeteer back.
Maybe his Ige was a combination of all of them. Anyway, we think Henson would want us to take the poetic final line of David Ige’s acceptance speech to heart, especially at such a time as this: “There’s lots more food.”
Mr. Henson had homes in Manhattan, Connecticut, Malibu, Calif., and London and was survived by his wife and five children.