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Jerry Nelson Dies at 78, Muppet Puppeteer

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Today, we learn the loss of one of the most prominent people from our childhood. Jerry Nelson, the voice and puppeteer behind many of Jim Henson’s The Muppets characters, has died.

Jimmy Nelson started working for Jim Henson’s Muppet project in 1965 with his first job on The Jimmy Dean Show, due to Frank Oz taking time off from his puppeteering role; however, when Oz returned from his absence, Henson had to release Nelson to let Oz resume his role. Nelson rejoined Henson in 1970, and in 1971, Nelson was the first puppeteer to perform “Mr. Snuffleupagus,” which Nelson kept from 1971-1975.

Later, Nelson progressed into performing more well-known puppets within The Muppets‘ family, such as:

  • Count von Count (Sesame Street)
  • Sgt. Floyd Pepper
  • Dr. Julius Strangepork
  • Lew Zealand
  • Robin the Frog (Kermit the Frog’s nephew)
  • Camilla the Chicken
  • Uncle Deadly

Nelson also was graced with both puppeteering and voicing Emmet Otter in Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, which gave Nelson much attention for this role.

Apart from Nelson’s involvement with The Muppets, Nelson also became involved with the other puppet hit Fraggle Rock, puppeteering various roles like: Gobo Fraggle, Pa Gorg, and Marjory the “Trash Heap.”

On August 23rd, 2012, Jerry Nelson passed away at the age of 78. Various fans of his work have been leaving their respects via Twitter:

Jerry Nelson Dies at 78, Muppet Puppeteer
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  • JIM

    GERALD LEE NELSON PASSED ON AT AGE 78. HERE’S AN INTRO THAT WE REMEMBER, AND NOW, IT’S TIME FOR THAT GREAT NEW GAME SHOW “WHAT’S MY LETTER”. AND HERE THE HOST OF THE SHOW, GUY SMILEY.

  • Karin

    This has been a deadly year. I can’t remember when so many people I know/like have passed away.