James Maury Henson (September 24, 1936 – May 16, 1990) was an American puppeteer, animator, cartoonist, actor, inventor, composer, filmmaker and screenwriter, who achieved worldwide notice as the creator of The Muppets characters and Fraggle Rock (1983–1987); and as the director of The Dark Crystal (1982) and Labyrinth (1986). He was born in Greenville, Mississippi, and raised in Leland, Mississippi, and University Park, Maryland.Henson began developing puppets in high school. He created Sam and Friends (1955–1961), a short-form comedy television program, while he was a freshman at the University of Maryland, College Park. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in home economics, after which he produced coffee advertisements and developed experimental films. In 1958, he co-founded Muppets, Inc., which became The Jim Henson Company.