The man behind Sesame Street’s Count von Count, Jerry Nelson, died Aug. 23 at age 78.
Nelson, who worked with Muppets creator Jim Henson early in his career, also played Gobo Fraggle on Fraggle Rock, a Henson TV series from the 1980s.
Nelson “imbued all his characters with the same gentle, sweet whimsy and kindness that were a part of his own personality,” said Lisa Henson, c.e.o. of Jim Henson Co., in a statement. “He joined the Jim Henson Co. in the earliest years, and his unique contributions to the worlds of Fraggles, Muppets, Sesame Street and so many others are, and will continue to be, unforgettable.”
Henson and Nelson first worked together as puppeteers in New York City in the mid-1960’s.
In its obituary, the Hollywood Reporter recounted that Nelson was the puppeteer behind “Mr. Snuffleupagus, a shy pachyderm friend to Big Bird; Sgt. Floyd Pepper, bassist of the Electric Mayhem Band; Dr. Julius Strangepork, science officer on the USS Swinetrek; Camilla the Chicken, the other half of Gonzo’s inter-species relationship; Lew Zealand, master fish-boomerangist; and Robin, sweet nephew to Kermit the Frog.”
As a tribute, Sesame Workshop has paused Count von Count’s Twitter stream, which began with the tweet “One!” on May 2, and proceeded to, “One hundred thirty one! Ah ah ah!” on Aug. 23, the day Nelson died.