Muppet puppeteer Jerry Nelson dead at 78

Jerry Nelson, the puppeteer who gave voice to dozens of characters on “Sesame Street,” “Fraggle Rock” and “The Muppet Show,” died at home in Cape Cod, Mass., on Thursday night after suffering from emphysema for several years. He was 78.
A statement on the Sesame Workshop’s website, the company that produces “Sesame Street”, paid tribute to Nelson, saying: “A member of the ‘Sesame Street’ family for more than 40 years, he will forever be in our hearts and remembered for the artistry in his puppetry, his music, and the laughter he brought to children worldwide through his portrayal of Count von Count, Herry Monster, Fat Blue, Sherlock Hemlock, the Amazing Mumford and many other beloved characters.”
Though Nelson retired from physical puppeteering in 2004, he continued to lend his voice to several muppets right up until his death. The 43rd season of “Sesame Street,” which begins September 24, will feature Nelson’s voice as Count von Count in several episodes.

Muppet puppeteer Jerry Nelson dead at 78
Jerry Nelson.

“Every description of his characters describes Jerry as well” – said “Sesame Street” executive producer Carol-Lynn Parente. “Silly, funny, vulnerable, passionate and musical, for sure. That voice of his was superb.”
Although he’d been in declining health for some time “his attitude was never bad” – Parente said Friday. “He was always so grateful for what he had in his life.”
“We’re having a rough day on the Street” – she said.
In a tribute posted online by the nonprofit Sesame Workshop, Nelson was lauded for his artistry and the “laughter he brought to children worldwide” with the Count and other Muppet puppets including Sherlock Hemlock, Herry Monster and the Amazing Mumford.
Nelson was part of other projects featuring Jim Henson’s Muppets, including the 1984 movie “The Muppets Take Manhattan” and TV series including the 1980′s “Fraggle Rock” and 1990′s “Muppets Tonight”
In recent years, Nelson gave up the physically demanding job of operating the Count and other puppets on “Sesame Street” but still voiced the characters, the workshop said. The show’s new season launches in September and Nelson’s voice will be heard.
In 2010, he released the album “Truro Daydreams,” the title that referred to the Massachusetts town.
Survivors include Nelson’s wife, Jan, Parente said. Funeral plans were not immediately available.

Nelson may well be best remembered by the children of the baby boomers for his portrayal of the memorable Muppet characters on Sesame Street. A short list of some of them include the sleuth Sherlock Hemlock, the alchemic magical Amazing Mumford, the gentle giant Herry Monster, and above all, one of the A-list Muppets on the show, the numerologistic Count Von Count, who in essence, helped teach scores of children how to count from one to ten during his tenure on the program. That character had debuted 40 years ago on the show and quickly became a fan favorite.
Nelson also performed as the hulking, sensitive, shy, and endearing Snuffleupagus, a massive puppet that in essence, required Nelson to physically get himself into the entire costume and do the performance. He was the first incarnation of the character, performing it from 1971 – 1978.
When Jim Henson spun-off some of the Muppets and the entire Muppet franchise to the extremely popular syndicated Muppet Show in 1976, Nelson also created many well-known characters as well on that program, the bassist from the Electric Mayhem band, one Sgt. Floyd Pepper, the star of the futuristically campy Pigs in Space segments, Doctor Julius Strangepork, and Kermit the Frog’s nephew Robin the Frog. Nelson also performed some characters on Fraggle Rock, the main character Gobo among others. He even performed as the voice of the announcer in last years theatrical rebirth of the Muppet film series franchise, entitled The Muppets, and his final role was performing said announcer in a Carnegie Hall performance of Jim Henson’s Musical World.
Above all, the work and wondrous talents of Jerry Nelson will always be remembered and revered by the millions of fans who grew up delighting and dazzling at his many memorable characters. In his death, a chapter of the delightful, wonderful, and incredible early era of Sesame Street now comes to a close. But his work will live on in the minds of his many fans and the videos which will never forget and always showcase the great puppeteer and artist, that was Jerry Nelson. RIP Jerry. Thanks for all the memories and laughs and education.

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