Jerry Nelson and Jessica Max Stein, Truro MA, February 2010
Jerry Nelson, who died in August 2012 at age 78, performed with the Muppets for over fifty years. A master of the craft, Nelson brought to life an innumerable, nuanced and wildly divergent cast of characters, from tiny frogs to full-body monsters. His unparalled vocal versatility led many to call him “the man of a thousand voices.” Joked colleague Cheryl Blaylock – as coworkers and fans alike often quip – “Every time I didn’t recognize a voice, I’d go, ‘Well, must be Jerry.’”
Yet I came to find that Nelson was also a veritable zen master at enjoying the moment and moving through the world with integrity. He helped me invaluably in writing the biography of his close friend and fellow Muppeteer Richard Hunt, not only through the stories he shared of their adventures, but through the example of his own camaraderie and kindness. It is an honor to have known him. Continue reading
I met the amiable Peter Dorosh – where else? – on a birding walk in Prospect Park. Dorosh would seem to have some strikes against him as a birder, living in the decidedly urban habitat of Brooklyn, New York and being severely hearing-impaired, unable to hear many of the birds he sees.
Yet Dorosh is a top local birder, having just stepped down after 12 years as president of the Brooklyn Bird Club, and running the Prospect Park bird sightings blog. We sat down in Prospect Park to talk about his story, the accessibility of birding, philosophical differences among the birding community, and, of course, how best to get the birds. The deceptively spring-like March afternoon became increasingly chilly as we spoke, but wordlessly we agreed that there was no better place to be than out in the park. Continue reading
Our old family friend Peggy Mermelstein died early yesterday. Smartass, artist, transplanted New Yorker, knew I was queer years before I did and didn’t give a shit, devoted mom to Kelly and Brian, great ally and mentor to both me and my sister. Thinking fondly of all our good times in that cozy house around the corner.
Picture: Peggy Mermelstein with her kids Kelly and Brian, December 1991.
Muppeteer Jerry Nelson died yesterday. I’m very sad. In addition to being one of the main Muppet performers for over fifty years, a master at vocal versatility, singing chops, and bringing puppets to life, he was also a master at enjoying life and having integrity, one of the most kind, respectful and fun people I’ve ever had the pleasure of being friends with. Too sad to write the obit right now — Toughpigs has a nice one. And here’s the interview Jerry and I did in 2010.
Today would have been Richard Hunt’s 61st birthday, and as a treat I’m sharing his rare in-person Sesame Street cameo, aired November 1981 in episode 1576.
In 1981, the 30-year-old Hunt had been with The Muppets for a decade. Jerry Nelson, also known as The Count, says that in the early years, “Richard was like a puppy, bouncy and overeager. We had to sit on him a lot.” We see Hunt’s irrepressible glee in this clip, where he and Madeline Kahn play a hilarious pair of bird-brained birdwatchers. Continue reading
Posted in Richard Hunt, Uncategorized
Tagged Anwar Sadat, Big Bird, Brian Meehl, Caroll Spinney, Jerry Nelson, Madeline Kahn, Rainbow Connection, Richard Hunt, Sesame Street, Sonia Manzano