After enrolling in college in 1955, Henson continued to develop his profession. While studying theater arts at Maryland University, the performer got the chance to air his own show on a Washington, D.C.-based network. The resulting show, Sam and Friends, certainly granted him valuable exposure. But it also led to the puppeteer forging two very important relationships.
The first relationship was with Jane Nebel, a classmate at Maryland University who agreed to help Henson with the show. In 1958, the pair progressed their working relationship by co-founding Muppets, Inc. – later named The Jim Henson Company – together. One year later, their partnership turned into marriage, with Nebel taking the entertainer’s name shortly after.
The second relationship would be with a character that has since become synonymous with Henson’s name – Kermit the Frog. Built from a coat the puppeteer’s mom threw away, Kermit made his debut appearance on Sam and Friends where his rapport was immediately obvious. “I think people realized that if you put Kermit’s face [on TV], it was powerful,” the entertainer’s wife told USA Today in 2010.