Brian Henson
Henson (right) with Bill Barretta (left) in 1982.
Born (1963-11-03) November 3, 1963 (age 60)[1]
Years active1979–present
Ellis Flyte
(m. 1990; div. 2002)
(m. 2010)

Brian Henson (born November 3, 1963)[1] is an American puppeteer, director, producer, voice actor and the chairman of The Jim Henson Company.[2] He is the son of puppeteers Jim and Jane Henson.

Early life

Henson was born on November 3, 1963[1] in New York City, the third child of Jane Henson (née Nebel; 1934–2013) and Jim Henson (1936–1990). He has four siblings: Lisa (born 1960), Cheryl (born 1961), John (1965–2014) and Heather Henson (born 1970).

As a child, Henson appeared in some of the filmed segments that his father produced for the PBS children's series Sesame Street.[1]

As a teenager, he built the first Muppet penguin puppet for the opening "Lullaby of Broadway" segment of a Season 3 episode of The Muppet Show.[3] During his summer break from high school at the age of 17, Henson assisted in the production of The Great Muppet Caper (1981); skilled in the use of marionette puppets, he helped create and operate a special rigging device that allowed the Muppets to appear to ride bicycles.[4][5] Several years later, after performing marionette work in The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) in the scene in which rats cook food in a diner, he specialized in managing complicated special effects.[6]



Henson performed Jack Pumpkinhead in Return to Oz (1985), operated special effects for Santa Claus: The Movie (1985) and was a principal performer for the Audrey II puppet in Little Shop of Horrors (1986), controlling mouth movement while others performed the lips and vines. He also performed the voice of Hoggle, one of the main characters in his father's film Labyrinth (1986), and the dog in both versions of The Storyteller (1988 and 1990).

In 1992, Henson directed The Muppet Christmas Carol and directed the next film in the franchise, Muppet Treasure Island, in 1996. He performed the role of Dr. Phil van Neuter, the Muppet mad scientist in Muppets from Space (1999). In 2018, he directed and produced The Happytime Murders, a puppet crime-comedy film for adult audiences.


Henson was the executive producer for several television series: Dinosaurs (1991–94), Aliens in the Family (1996), Bear in the Big Blue House (1997–2006) and Farscape (1999–2003). In addition to assuming an executive producer role, Henson served as the head judge on the 2014 reality television show Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge. He performed the roles of Janice and Scooter in the 2002 television film It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.

Henson returned to perform Sal Minella, a character he created for Muppets Tonight, in Muppets Haunted Mansion (2021).

Other ventures

Henson is the cocreator, producer and performer for the adult-themed puppet-based variety show Puppet Up!,[7] and has played various characters from the show on the British program That Puppet Game Show.

For The Muppet Show Live in 2001, Henson performed his own Muppet characters and one of his father's characters, The Newsman, for the first time. He reprised the role for the 2003 video game Muppets Party Cruise.

Personal life

Henson married Ellis Flyte, costume designer for the 1986 fantasy adventure film Labyrinth, in November 1990.[8] They divorced in 2002. Since 2010, Henson has been married to actress Mia Sara.[9] They have one child, a daughter born in 2005.[10]



Year Title Role Notes
1981 The Great Muppet Caper Muppet performer Also made a cameo appearance
1984 The Muppets Take Manhattan Muppet performer Uncredited
1985 Return to Oz Jack Pumpkinhead (voice actor)[11] Puppeteer of head and hands
1985 Santa Claus: The Movie Animatronic puppeteer
1986 Little Shop of Horrors Principal puppeteer
1986 Labyrinth Hoggle/Goblin (voice actor)[12]
1987 Jim Henson Presents Mother Goose Stories Co-director
1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Second unit director/Chief puppeteer
1990 The Witches Puppeteer
1990 Basil Hears a Noise Puppeteer
Executive producer
1992 The Muppet Christmas Carol Director/Producer
1996 Muppet Treasure Island Director/Producer
1997 Buddy Executive producer
1999 Muppets from Space Dr. Phil Van Neuter/Sal Minella/Talking Sandwich
1999 The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland Executive producer
2017 The Star Executive producer
2018 The Happytime Murders Crab/on-screen cameo (photograph)
Director; producer


Year Title Role Notes
1986 The Christmas Toy Cruiser TV movie
1988–1991 The Storyteller Storyteller's Dog/Devil/Griffin
1989–1990 The Jim Henson Hour Storyteller's Dog/Dog the Dinosaur/ Head of the Ultragorgon
1990 Basil Hears a Noise Puppeteer
Executive producer
TV movie
1991–1994 Dinosaurs Grandma Ethyl Phillips/Arthur Rizzic
Executive producer
1992–1994 Dog City Executive producer
1996 Aliens in the Family Executive producer
1996 Gulliver's Travels Co-executive producer
1996–1998 Muppets Tonight Sal Minella/Dr. Phil Van Neuter/Seymour/Nigel
1997–2003 Bear in the Big Blue House Executive producer
1999 Alice in Wonderland Executive producer TV movie
1999–2003 Farscape Executive producer
2001 Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story Director TV movie
2002 It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie Scooter/Sal Minella/Janice
Executive producer
TV movie
2004 Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars Director/Executive producer
2005 The Muppets' Wizard of Oz Sal Manilla
Executive producer
TV movie
2008 Jim Henson's Pajanimals Executive producer
2008–2009 Sid the Science Kid Executive producer
2009–2011 Dinosaur Train Executive producer
2010 Hot Dog TV Voice
2013 That Puppet Game Show Various
2014 Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge Executive producer and Head Judge
2020 Prop Culture Himself Episode: "The Muppet Movie"
2020 Earth to Ned Vincent Episode: "I've Got a Ned Feeling About This"; Also executive producer[13]
2021 Muppets Haunted Mansion Sal Minella Halloween special for Disney+

Video games

Year Title Roles Notes
2000 Muppet RaceMania Sal Minella/Dr. Phil Van Neuter Voice[14]
2003 Muppets Party Cruise Scooter/Sal Minella/Janice/The Muppet Newsman

Awards and nominations

Year Association Nominated work Category Result Ref(s)
1996 Primetime Emmy Awards Gulliver's Travels Outstanding Miniseries Won
Muppets Tonight Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series Nominated
1997 The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss Outstanding Children's Program Nominated
1997 Satellite Awards Muppet Treasure Island Best Animated or Mixed Media Film Nominated
1998 Primetime Emmy Awards The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss Outstanding Children's Program Nominated
Muppets Tonight Won
2019 Golden Raspberry Awards The Happytime Murders Worst Picture Nominated
Worst Director


  1. ^ a b c d "Jim Henson's Journal". November 4, 2014.
  2. ^ "Profile at Jim Henson Company". Archived from the original on March 25, 2014. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  3. ^ Morell, Casey (August 3, 2016). "Master Of Puppets Brings New Show To The Las Vegas Strip". KNPR. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  4. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (March 25, 2014). "Brian Henson on His New Reality Show, the 'Fraggle Rock' Movie and More". Variety. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  5. ^ Stuart, S.C. (March 8, 2017). "Naughty Puppets Invade Jim Henson Studio Lot". PCMag. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  6. ^ King, Susan (August 19, 1990). "The Henson Shows His Hand: Jim Henson Is Gone But Some Of His Puppets Live On With 'Mother Goose'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  7. ^ "About". Puppet Up!. Archived from the original on January 6, 2015.
  8. ^ "Ellis Flyte Wed to Brian Henson". The New York Times. November 6, 1990.
  9. ^ Bricker, Tierney (June 11, 2021). "See the Stars of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Then & Now". E! Online. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  10. ^ "Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Where Are They Now?". ABC News. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  11. ^ Brian Henson interview: How The Happytime Murders revives the darker side of the Muppets. The Independent. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  12. ^ Star Wars and Harry Potter actor Paul Grant dies aged 56. The Guardian. 20 March 2023. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  13. ^ Bennett, Tara (September 3, 2020). "Brian Henson beams SYFY WIRE into the world of Disney+'s alien talk show, Earth to Ned". Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  14. ^ "Brian Henson (visual voices guide)". Behind The Voice Actors. Archived from the original on March 25, 2023.
Preceded byNone Performer of Andy 1994 Succeeded bySteve Whitmire Preceded byMatt Vogel Performer of Scooter 2002–2003 Succeeded byRickey Boyd Preceded byJerry Nelson Performer of Sal Minella 1996–2007, 2021–present Succeeded byNone Preceded byMatt Vogel Performer of Janice 2002–2003 Succeeded byTyler Bunch Preceded byJerry Nelson Performer of The Muppet Newsman 2001–2003 Succeeded bySteve Whitmire