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Kevin Clash: Misc



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Kevin Clash and Elmo

Kevin Clash (b. September 17, 1960) is an accomplished puppeteer whose characters include Elmo, Clifford and Hoots the Owl. He currently serves as Sesame Street Muppet Captain and co-executive producer. He was promoted to "senior creative advisor" at Sesame Workshop in May 2007. [1]



Clash in The News American news clipping, the first article to feature him.

Clash was born and raised in Turner's Station, a predominantly black suburb of Baltimore, Maryland.[2]

Clash grew up with parents George and Gladys, older siblings George Jr. ("Georgie") and Anita ("NeNe"), and little sister Pam. His father works as a flash welder operator at Raymond Metals and a neighborhood handyman, and his mother ran a daycare.[3]

Clash began building puppets at the age of ten. Clash's parents were supportive of his interest in puppetry, driving him to puppet shows, allowing for his love of television and craft, and not urging him to attend college when he announced he was pursuing puppetry professionally. Among his television viewing were such series as Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop, Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, and H.R. Pufnstuf. Clash has admitted he watched television inches away from the screen, with no permanent eye damage. [3] His parents were supposedly more amused than angered when he cut apart his father's good overcoat to create a monkey puppet with the fuzzy black lining.[3] As a tribute, Elmo's parents were named George and Gladys in an Elmo's World segment; their names have since been changed.

He performed on Baltimore's Harbor Front as a teenager. In high school, he was voted "Most Likely to be a Millionaire."

Early television work

Clash with Artie from Captain Kangaroo

Clash's first television work was for a CBS affiliate in Baltimore. He also performed a pelican character for Zep, a local Washington, D.C. show airing on WTOP.

In the early '80s, he performed regularly, with Jim Martin, on Bob Keeshan's Wake Up with the Captain, a continuation of Captain Kangaroo. Clash performed a young boy named Artie and other characters, built puppets, and occasionally appeared on-camera, as Kevin the college student and various ensemble roles.

From 1981 to 1986, he appeared in The Great Space Coaster, as Goriddle Gorilla, Rory and Huggle Scuffy. During this stint, he attracted the attention of Muppet designer Kermit Love, who invited him to work on various Henson projects.

Coming to the Muppets

Clash and Jim Henson.
Clash assists Henson on Kermit the Frog.

Kevin Clash first met Kermit Love in the 1970s, who occasionally arranged for the fledgling puppeteer to visit the set of Sesame Street. In 1979, the main Muppet performers were performing in a Muppet Movie float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and extra puppeteers were needed for the Sesame Street float. Clash was brought in to perform Cookie Monster for the event.[3]

Later, in 1983, he was officially hired to perform in ten episodes of Sesame Street. However, at the time he was performing full-time on two other shows, and the producers of both refused to work around his schedule. Thus, Clash was forced to tear up his contract to appear on Sesame Street. [3]

Kevin Clash was also given the opportunity to perform in The Dark Crystal, but Kermit Love dissuaded him, urging Clash to concentrate on his other series work.

Kevin Clash officially became a Sesame Street puppeteer in 1984. Some of his earliest characters included Hoots the Owl and Dr. Nobel Price, later supplemented by the likes of Baby Natasha and Kingston Livingston III. However, it was Elmo who became his main character, once Clash assumed the part from previous puppeteers Brian Muehl and Richard Hunt, and placed his own imprint on the red monster. Clash has also sung in voice-over in a variety of film and cartoon inserts on the series, including "In My Animal Book" and "Take Care of That Smile."

Clash served as an additional Muppet performer on Follow That Bird, where he performed the voice of one of the feathered friends, [4] and reprised Elmo, along with other characters, in the feature film The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland and innumerable specials, appearances, and videos.

More Muppets

During the late 1980s, Clash was involved with a variety of Henson productions. He performed P.J. in the Play-Along videos, and Father Bunny and Be-Bop in Tale of the Bunny Picnic. He would also perform Eliot Shag on Dog City, various characters in Muppet Time insertitials. He also performed the title character in the Muppet Sing-Along video Billy Bunny's Animal Songs.

Clash became one of the main Muppet performers on The Jim Henson Hour. His two main characters on the series were the lizard-like Leon and the bass player Clifford. Out of these two, only Clifford has remained a major character, subsequently appearing in The Muppets at Walt Disney World, The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson, a guest spot on The Arsenio Hall Show, the albums Muppet Beach Party and Kermit Unpigged, and the feature films Muppets from Space and The Muppets Wizard of Oz. However, Clifford became a star when he hosted the short-lived Muppets Tonight, for which Clash also performed Mulch and Craniac.

Clash performed in many of the recent Muppet films, including Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets from Space, It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, and The Muppets Wizard of Oz. In Muppet Treasure Island, he performed one of the main villains, Polly Lobster, as well as Spa'am and Black Dog. He also performed many of Frank Oz's characters in many scenes, and Frank Oz performed the voices later. Although he performed the Sam the Eagle puppet but not the voice in Muppet Treasure Island, he would later perform the characters voice, but not the puppetry, in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (John Kennedy did the actual puppeteering), as well as in the video game Muppet Party Cruise.

Creature Shop Work

Karen Prell and Clash manipulate a Fiery in Labyrinth.

Clash's worked on Jim Henson's fantasy films Labyrinth. Clash provided puppeteered and voiced the lead Fiery, while also operating Ambrosius and one of The Four Guards. Clash also worked on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, supplying the face and voice of Splinter.

On Dinosaurs, Clash starred as Baby Sinclair, and also played Howard Handupme and various episodic mammals.

Reflecting on his decades as a puppeteer, in the fall of 2006, Kevin Clash released an autobiography titled My Life as a Furry Red Monster.

Performance Credits



Clash and one of his many Emmy Awards.
Kevin Clash with Hoots, Elmo, Clifford, and Ace Yu.
Clash and Elmo.

Animation voices

Production credits





Clash and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph perform on Sesame Street with Caroll Spinney as Big Bird.
  • His daughter Shannon was born in 1993. [5]
  • Kevin Clash rarely appears on talk shows without Elmo. One of the few instances in which he appeared on television as himself was on The Oprah Winfrey Show, in a 2006 episode, "The Faces Behind the Famous Names".
  • He made a longer appearance on the July 11, 2006 broadcast of Rove Live performing Elmo first and later appearing as himself with Elmo. Other appearances on TV as himself include Emeril Live and Grill It! with Bobby Flay. In the latter, he prepares a ribeye steak and his favorite vidalia onion recipe with butter and garlic which he describes as what Sesame Street would call a "sometime food."

Awards & honors

  • Kevin won Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series for his work as Elmo and Hoots the Owl on Sesame Street in 1990, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2007.

See also


  1. "Workshop promotes Elmo", C21Media, 16 May 2007.
  2. While locals referred to it as Turner's Station, its official name is Turner Station.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love, and Laughing Out Loud.
  4. Clash, Kevin The MuppetCast Episode 48
  5. Elisa Chia, "Meet the grown-up behind Elmo", 31 July 2006.

External links

  • IMDb

This article uses material from the "Kevin Clash" article on the Muppet wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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