Jerry Nelson, one of the major talents 'underneath' the Muppets, has passed away at the age of 78.
He got his start with the Muppets when Rowlf was appearing on The Jimmy Dean Show, with Jim Henson operating his mouth and one hand and Frank Oz working the other. But when Frank needed a temporary replacement, Jerry became Rowlf's right hand.
He became a full-time member of the Muppet repertoire players, getting his big break as the title character in "The Frog Prince" (previously here) who later became "Kermit's nephew Robin" on The Muppet Show.
He joined the Muppets on Sesame Street where his most notable roles were:
Count von Count (counting flowers) (Counting cookies for Cookie Monster) (singing his theme song),
and Mr. Snuffleupagus (his first appearance) (Snuffy calls his mother) (Mount Snuffleupagus). He gave up the physically demanding full-body puppet in 1978.
When the Muppets provided some strangely alien puppet characters for the first season of Saturday Night Life, Jerry portrayed the ugly/cute Skred. (with Lily Tomlin) (Last Gasps in The Land of Gorch)
Jerry portrayed the title character in Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas.
On The Muppet Show, in addition to Robin the Frog, Jerry performed as
Sgt. Floyd Pepper of the Electric Mayhem,
Camilla the Chicken,
and Crazy Harry,
originated the character of Statler
and became the announcer for segments like "PIGS... IN... SPACE!!!" In fact, he served as "Announcer" for most of the Muppet projects all the way to the telethon sequence in the recent movie.
He also did a lot of the musical numbers as a one-shot character.
He had several roles on Fraggle Rock, most notably as Gobo Fraggle.
Jerry mostly retired from his Muppet work in recent years, sometimes providing voices but not doing the physical puppeteering. But in 2009, he sang and played guitar on an interesting little album titled "Truro Daydreams", with songs like "Get Yourself Free (Happy Little Song)", "(Groovin' on) Noah's Ark" and "Little Red" (with a little help from some other Muppeteers - that's Kevin "Elmo" Clash as the Big Bad Wolf!!)
Here are interviews with Jerry Nelson by
Ken Plume in 1998,
Joe Hennes of the Muppet fan site Tough Pigs in 2009,
Ryan Dosier of "Muppet Mindset" in 2010.
Friday, August 24, 2012
The Count is gone