Jerry Nelson, the puppeteer behind a menagerie of characters including Count von Count on Sesame Street and Gobo Fraggle on Fraggle Rock, has died at the age of 78. Nelson, who suffered from emphysema, died on 23 August in his Massachusetts home on Cape Cod.
"Every description of his characters describes Jerry as well," said the Sesame Street executive producer Carol-Lynn Parente. "Silly, funny, vulnerable, passionate and musical, for sure. That voice of his was superb." Although Nelson had been in declining health for some time "his attitude was never bad," Parente added. "He was always so grateful for what he had in his life. We're having a rough day on the Street."
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. He was also part of other projects featuring Jim Henson's Muppets, including the 1984 movie The Muppets Take Manhattan and television series including the 1980s Fraggle Rock and 1990s Muppets Tonight.
Nelson was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and raised in Washington DC. GIs first Muppets job was performing Rowlf the Dog on The Jimmy Dean Show in 1965. 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 the United States in September, and Nelson's voice will be heard. In 2010, he released the album Truro Daydreams, a title that referred to the Massachusetts town.