Allegations of abusive language and on-set behavior are surfacing against Kevin Clash, best known as the puppeteer behind Sesame Street’s Elmo.
Allegations of workplace abuse have surfaced against puppeteer Kevin Clash, best known as the voice of Elmo on sesame street.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a puppet wrestler on the set of Disney+ Earth to Ned said that on his first day of filming in November 2019, he was warned by a more experienced wrestler about Clash, specifically that he shouldn’t address the star puppeteer directly. “Among other puppeteers, he’s known to be very bubbly and kind,” the wrestler told THR. “But when it comes to wranglers, I’ve been told he tends to be condescending and mean.”
The wrangler ultimately found himself at the mercy of Clash’s temper, which was rumored on set. “He yelled at me for leaving a voicemail as Elmo for someone’s kid,” he said. “I think I was standing too close to him. He told me to ‘shut up.’ Neither Clash nor The Jim Henson Company have responded to the allegations.
While rumors of Clash’s temper were apparently well known among the wranglers on set, that was apparently not the experience of his fellow puppeteers. “My experience with Kevin is that he’s super generous, always showing new artists how to be a puppeteer, happy to make you laugh in the scene, and just super helpful,” said sesame street puppeteer, screenwriter and director Joey Mazzarino.
Puppetry is a unique craft that emerged with the creation of sesame street and The puppet show set in the 1970s and requires a specific skill set, namely building and repairing puppets. Currently, only 25 people worldwide work as full-time wranglers and they are actively lobbying for union representation from The Jim Henson Company, further alleging abuse, mistreatment and unsafe conditions in the workplace.
Clash is best known as the puppeteer behind the character Elmo and voiced the furry red monster on sesame street from 1984 to 2012. However, Clash would resign from sesame street in 2012, after four different men filed civil lawsuits against him for sexual abuse, alleging Clash had sex with them when they were underage. Clash denied the allegations but resigned from sesame street that same year and each case was dismissed due to the expiration of the six-year statute of limitations.
Clash continued his work as a puppeteer for The Jim Henson Company on several productions, including those in 2018 The Happy Murdersthe Netflix series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance in 2019, Earth to Ned on Disney+ in 2020 and most recently Jim Henson’s 2022 reboot by Apple TV+ Fraggle Rock: back to the rock.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
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