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It is with great sadness that we share the news that Jerry Nelson has passed away. Those who grew up watching Sesame Street may be more familiar with his voice than his name or face. Nelson was the voice and puppeteer behind a number of characters, including Count von Count, otherwise known as the Count, the Dracula-like purple vampire with a deep appreciation for numbers.
According to People (citing CBC.ca), Nelson died today of unspecified causes at the age of 78 years old.
Nelson joined Sesame Street near the start of the children's series' run in the early 70's, and continued to work there, providing the voice for the Count up until his death, though he retired from puppeteering back in 2004. His involvement in the Jim Henson/Frank Oz universe was not limited to Sesame Street, however. He also provided the voice for Gobo Fraggle, one of the lead Fraggles in Fraggle Rock, as well as Pa Gorg and Trash Heap. Those familiar with Fraggle Rock know those are some pretty big roles for the series. He also did the voice for Gonzo's beloved chicken Camilla in numerous Muppet movies and specials. And he served as the voice for High Priest and the Dying Emperor in The Dark Crystal (one of the creepiest movies of my childhood).
While he performed as a number of other characters (including Floyd Pepper), I think many will remember him best for The Count, because the Count remains such an iconic character on Sesame Street. Sure, he wasn't the star of the show, but he knew numbers like nobody's business, and for a series that focused on entertaining and educating children, the Count was a valuable asset in both regards. He's also one of my favorite Muppets to impersonate (1! 2! 3! Ah-ah-ah!).
Nelson's work was seen and appreciated by generations of people, and will not soon be forgotten. His friends and family are in our thoughts today in their time of loss.