Obit of the Day: Muppet Master Jerry Nelson
Lots of Muppets lost their voice today: Count von Count, Emmet Otter, Robin (Kermit’s nephew), Lew Zealand (of “boomerang fish” fame), Sherlock Hemlock, The Amazing Mumford (“A la peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!”), Harry Monster, Camilla the Chicken, and Gobo Fraggle.
Jerry Nelson, who passed away at the age of 78, met Jim Henson in New York City following the 1964 World’s Fair. Henson, who had met Nelson when Henson was performing Sam and Friends at WRC in Washington, D.C. and Nelson was an intern, asked Nelson to send an audition tape. Henson liked what he heard, except for Nelson’s take on Kermit.
Henson hired Nelson to replace Frank Oz as Rowlf the Dog’s right hand on the Jimmy Dean Show. Upon Oz’s return, Henson fired Nelson for lack of work but re-hired him when the Muppets were added to the cast of PBS’ newest educational program, Sesame Street.
Nelson would work with the Muppets from 1969 until his death on August 23, 2012. He retired from the physical aspect of puppeteering in 2004 but continued to voice his Sesame Street Muppets until his death. He was also given an uncredited cameo as the theater announcer in 2011’s film, The Muppets.
Random note: Jerry Nelson had a daughter, Christine, who suffered from cystic fibrosis. She passed away in 1982 at the age of 21. Jim Henson gave her a speaking role in The Great Muppet Caper, “Girl in Park,” which allowed her to join the Screen Actors’ Guild.
Sources: avclub.com, IMDB.com, Wikipedia.org
All characters copyright of the Jim Henson Company and Disney.
Count von Count - courtesy cnet.com
Lew Zealand - courtesy muppet.wikia.com
Emmet Otter - courtesy brianmastroianni.com
Robin the Frog - courtesy muppet.wikia.com