Jerry Nelson, the puppeteer who gave voice to dozens of characters on ‘Sesame Street’, ‘Fraggle Rock’ and ‘The Muppet Show’, died Thursday night at his home in Cape Cod, Mass., after suffering from emphysema for several years. He was 78 years old.
A statement on the website of Sesame Workshop (the company that produces “Sesame Street”) paid tribute to Nelson, saying, “A member of ‘Sesame Street’ family for over 40 years, he will forever be in our hearts and we will remember the artistry of his puppets, his music and the laughter he brought to children around the world through his portrayal of Count von Count , Herry Monster, Fat Blue, Sherlock Hemlock, The Amazing Mumford and many other beloved characters.
Although Nelson retired from physical puppetry in 2004, he continued to lend his voice to several puppets until his death. The 43rd season of “Sesame Street,” which begins Sept. 24, will feature Nelson’s voice as Count von Count in multiple episodes.
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Lisa Henson, daughter of Muppet creator Jim Henson and current CEO of Jim Henson Co., also paid tribute to Nelson in a statement, which read, “Jerry Nelson imbued all of his characters with the same sweet, gentle whimsy and kindness. which were a part of his own personality. He joined the Jim Henson Co. in the early years, and his unique contributions to the worlds of Fraggles, Muppets, Sesame Street and so many more are, and will continue to be, unforgettable. On behalf of the Henson family and everyone at Jim Henson Co., our deepest condolences go out to Jerry’s family and his many fans.
Nelson was born in Tulsa, Okla., in 1934. He was one of the first members of Henson’s muppeteer troupe, joining the group in 1965. He started on “Sesame Street” in the second season of the broadcast in 1970.
On “The Muppet Show”, Nelson portrayed Sgt. Floyd Pepper (Electric Mayhem bassist), boomerang fish thrower Lew Zealand and Kermit’s nephew Robin. On “Fraggle Rock”, he was Gobo Fraggle and Marjory the Trash Heap, among other characters.
He starred as the telethon announcer in last year’s big screen “The Muppets.”
He is survived by his wife, Jan. A daughter from a previous marriage, Christine, died of cystic fibrosis in 1982.
For the record, 7:10 a.m. on August 26: An earlier version of this message stated that Nelson’s daughter, Christine, was from his marriage to his wife, Jan. She was the daughter of his first marriage, to Jacqueline Nelson Gordon.
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