Last night the Jim Henson Co. released a statement saying that Jane Henson, co-creator of the Muppets, had died at the age of 78. The former wife of the late Jim Henson was at her home in Greenwich, CT at the time of her death, which came after a "long battle with cancer."
Jane, who was born in Queens, met Jim in a puppetry class in 1954 at the University of Maryland (they married five years later). While at the university, Jim had been offered a job on NBC affiliate WRC-TV in Washington, DC and he asked Jane along as his co-performer and creator, according to the Hollywood Reporter. It was there that the two ran a five-minute show called Sam and Friends, which aired before the Huntley-Brinkley Report and again after The Tonight Show—the show featured a little green guy who would become Kermit the Frog (he was more of a lizard back then).
Even though the couple separated in 1986, Jane still worked with the Jim Henson Co. She also founded the Jim Henson Legacy two years after Jim's death, as well as the National Puppetry Conference and the Jane Henson Foundation for philanthropic work. A memorial mass is planned for next week.