Jim Henson Honored With NAB’s Distinguished Service Award

Jim Henson (Image credit: NAB)

LAS VEGAS—Jim Henson, the creator of some of the most beloved TV characters of all time, is being recognized by the NAB with its Distinguished Service Award at the 2020 NAB Show.

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes members of the broadcast community who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the industry and the American public. 

Henson, who passed away in 1990, was a puppeteer, animator, inventor, director and producer who is responsible for creating Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, Bert & Ernie for “Sesame Street” in 1969. In 1976, he created “The Muppet Show” and its iconic characters Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and others. He also was behind the TV shows “Fraggle Rock,” “Jim Henson’s The Storyteller,” “The Jim Henson Hour” and “Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies.”

The children of the late Henson, Brian and Lisa Henson, will accept the award on their father’s behalf. Brian and Lisa continue to run The Jim Henson Company today, Brian as chairman of the Board and Lisa as its CEO and president. In addition, Brian will recreate a sketch from “Sam and Friends,” an early program that aired on WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., during the late Henson’s first year at the University of Maryland.

“At his core, my father was a pioneering, innovative artist with an insatiable curiosity,” said Lisa Henson. “In the earliest days of TV, he simply wanted to be part of this exciting technology that was the newest form of storytelling. Puppetry was his way in and he never looked back. We are grateful to the NAB for recognizing Jim Henson’s ongoing contributions to television.”

Past recipients of the Distinguished Service Award include Walter Cronkite, Bob Hope, Oprah Winfrey, Ronald Reagan, Cokie Roberts and last year’s winners Alan Alda. A full list of DSA winners is available online.

The NAB will present the Distinguished Service Award during the NAB Show Welcome on April 20. 

The 2020 NAB Show takes place from April 18-22 in Las Vegas.