KEVIN JEFFREY CLASH (b. September 17th, 1960) is an accomplished Muppeteer whose characters include Elmo, Clifford, & Hoots the Owl. He previously served as SESAME STREET Muppet Captain & co-executive producer. He was promoted to "senior creative advisor" at Sesame Workshop in May 2007. The 2011 documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey chronicles CLASH’s life as a puppeteer. He had also voiced a few GROUCHES.
CLASH resigned from SESAME STREET in November 2012 in response to 2 allegations that he had sexual relationships with teenage boys & has since relocated to the Los Angeles area, continuing to puppeteer on other JIM HENSON Company projects. CLASH has since been twice cleared of the charges.
"SESAME Workshop’s mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential. KEVIN CLASH has helped us achieve that mission for 28 years, & none of us, especially KEVIN, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding KEVIN’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, & he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job & has resigned from SESAME STREET. This is a sad day for SESAME STREET."
KEVIN JEFFREY CLASH grew up with parents George & Gladys, older siblings, George, Jr (Georgie) & Anita ("NeNe") & little sister Pam. His father works as a flash welder operator at Raymond Metals & a neighborhood handyman, & his mother ran a daycare.
CLASH began building puppets at age 10. CLASH’s parents were supportive of his interest in puppetry, driving him to puppet shows, allowing for his love of TV & craft, & not urging him to attend college when he announced he was pursuing puppetry professionally. Among his TV viewing were such series as Shari Lewis & Lamb Chop, Kukla, Fran, & Ollie, & H.R.Pufnstuf. CLASH has admitted he watched TV inches away from the screen, with no permanent eye damage.  His parents were supposedly more amused than angered when he cut his father’s good overcoat apart to create a monkey puppet with the fuzzy black lining. As a tribute, Elmo’s parents were named George & 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 TV workEdit
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 & other characters, built puppets, & occasionally appeared on-camera, as KEVIN the college student & various ensemble roles.
From 1981 to 1986, he appeared in The Great Space Coaster as Goriddle Gorilla, Rory & 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 MuppetsEdit
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, all the main Muppeteers were performing in a huge Muppet Movie float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, & extra puppeteers were needed for the SESAME STREET float. CLASH was brought in to perform Cookie Monster for the event.
Later, in 1983, he was officially hired to perform in 10 episodes of SESAME STREET. However, at the time he was performing full-time on 2 other shows, & the producers of both refused to work around his schedule. Thus, CLASH was forced to tear his contract up to appear on SESAME STREET. 
KEVIN CLASH officially became a SESAME STREET Muppeteer in 1984. Some of his earliest characters included Hoots the Owl & Dr. Nobel Price, later supplemented by the likes of Baby Natasha & Kingston Livingston III. However, it was Elmo who became his main character, once CLASH assumed the part from previous Muppeteers Brian Muehl & RICHARD HUNT, & placed his own imprint on the red monster. CLASH has also sung in voice-over in a variety of film & cartoon inserts on the series, including "Animal Books" & "Take Care of That Smile".
CLASH served as an additional Muppeteer on Follow That BIRD, where he performed the voice of 1 of the feathered friends as well as that of Hoots the Owl & he reprised Elmo, along with other characters, in the feature film The Adventures of Elmo in GROUCHland & innumerable specials, appearances & videos.
During the late 1980s, CLASH was involved with a variety of HENSON productions. He performed P.J. in the Play-Along videos, & Father Bunny & Be-Bop in The Tale of the Bunny Picnic. He would, also, perform Eliot Shag on Dog City & various othercharacters in Muppet Time insertions. He also performed the title character, Billy Bunny in the Muppet Sing-Along video Billy Bunny’s Animal Songs.
CLASH became 1 of the main Muppeteers on The JIM HENSON Hour. His 2 main characters on the series were the lizard-like Leon & Clifford, the bass guitar/percussion player. Out of these 2, only Clifford has as 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 & KERMIT UNPIGged, & the feature films Muppets from Space & The Muppets' Wizard of Oz. However, Clifford became a star when he hosted the short-lived Muppets Tonight, for which CLASH had also performed Mulch & Craniac (as well as Waldorf’s performer in episodes 101 & 110 filling in for DAVE GOELZ). Also, just as expected, CLASH was incredibly devastated when his very dear friend & boss, JIM HENSON, unexpectedly died.
CLASH performed in many of the recent Muppet films, including Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets from Space, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie & The Muppets' Wizard of Oz. In Muppet Treasure Island, he performed 1 of the main villains, Polly Lobster, as well as Spa'am & Black Dog. He also performed the Muppetry of many of FRANK OZ’s characters in many scenes, & FRANK OZ performed the voices later. Although he performed the Sam the Eagle puppet but not the voice in Muppet Treasure Island, he later performed the character’s voice, but not the Muppetry, in It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie following the retirement of FRANK OZ from the Muppets (John Kennedy performed the Muppetry), as well as in the video game Muppets Party Cruise.
Creature Shop WorkEdit
CLASH worked on 1 of JIM HENSON’s fantasy films, Labyrinth. He puppeteered & voiced the lead Fiery, while also operating Ambrosius & 1 of the Four Guards. CLASH also worked on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, & Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, supplying the face & voice of Splinter.
FRAN BRILL & KEVIN CLASHEdit
Muppeteering on SESAME STREET soon partnered CLASH with various different Muppeteers over the years. His most frequent partner however, was FRAN BRILL. Ever since 1993, when BRILL 1st originated the role of Zoe, the character has always been paired with KEVIN CLASH’s Elmo, who quickly became Zoe’s best friend, & vice versa. BRILL & CLASH have had several other pairings over the years also:
FRAN BRILL/KEVIN CLASH Muppets PairingsEdit
- Zoe/Wolfgang the Seal
- Zoe/Kingston Livingston III
- Miss Fran/Elmo
- Birthday Cake/Elmo
- Bow/Elmo (with Tyler Bunch’s Violin character)
- Wanda Cousteau/Wolfgang the Seal
- Roxie Marie/Elmo
- Roxie Marie/Kingston Livingston III
- Roxie Marie/Hoots the Owl
- Roxie Marie/Preposterous
- Roxie Marie/Benny Rabbit
- Prairie Dawn/Hoots the Owl
- Prairie Dawn/Elmo
- Prairie Dawn/Benny Rabbit
- Prairie Dawn/Kingston Livingston III
- Mary/Hoots the Owl
- Queen Olivia/Elmo
- The Sun/Elmo
- Little Bird/Elmo
- String Bean/Elmo
- Porcupine/Billy Bunny
- Polly Darton/Second Dog
- SESAME STREET: Elmo (1984 - 2012), Baby Fats Domino, Baby Tooth, a beet from "Grow Low Grow High", Benny Rabbit, The Big Bad Wolf (several '80s SESAME STREET News Flash skits), Billy Idle, Cee Lo Green Muppet, Chad, Chef John, Chip the Cat, Clementine (1985 - 1988), Cloud, Cookie Monster’s Mommy ("The 1st Time Me Eat Cookie"), Dexter (head), The Duck, Dr. Nobel Price (1984 - 1988), Eel, Elmo (1985 - 2012), Ernie’s Lavender Anything Muppet friend from "DON’t Throw That TTRASH on the Ground", Female Sun, Ferlinghetti Donizetti, 1 of the 4 Grouches Named Moe, The Grand High Triangle Lover, Gus, Honkers, Hoots the Owl, J. P., Kermit the Frog’s Doctor, Kingston Livingston III, Left, "Let's Go Driving" son, Luba Merquick, Next Generation Security Officer Mel, Mike the Ladybug, Miss Blechman, Baby Natasha, Pablo Paint Palette, Patti Paintbrush, Paul Pencil, Peter Piper, Pizzeria Dos Lavender worker, Preposterous, Professor D. Rabbit, Sad, Sam (pianist), Selma WORM, Sergeant Gabriel, Shark in "I Get a Kick Out of U", The Sun (in "Where Do I Belong?"), The Super Foods broccoli, Timmy, Warren Wolf, Watson, Wolfgang the Seal, Yip Yip Martian
- Follow That BIRD: Additional Muppeteer
- The Alphabet Game: Dimples the Dog
- Getting Ready to Read: Sam
- Free to Be... a Family: Unemployed Bear
- Labyrinth: Firey 1, Ambrosius, 1 of the Four Guards (both Muppetry only)
- The Tale of the Bunny Picnic: Be-Bop, Father Bunny
- JIM HENSON’s Play-Along Video series: P.J.
- Wow, You’re a Cartoonist!: Artie
- Neat Stuff To Know & To Do: Dwayne, Vinny Brontosaurus
- The JIM HENSON Hour: Clifford, Leon, Ace Yu ("Dog City"), Caiman ("The Song of the Cloud Forest"), Nick ("The Song of the Cloud Forest"), Blue Extreme, Doglion, Frackles, Bob
- The Cosby Show: The Hippocritic Oaf, Beautiful Day Monster, Luncheon Counter Monster, Pineapple
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splinter
- The Muppets at Walt Disney World: Clifford
- The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson: Clifford
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze: Splinter
- Dinosaurs: Baby Sinclair, Howard Handupme, Howlin' Jay, Female Grapdelite, Dinosaur Chief (face), Ethyl Phillips (sometimes, Muppetry), Mr. Ashland (Muppetry), Pterodactyl (Muppetry)
- Dog City: Eliot Shag
- Billy Bunny’s Animal Songs: Billy Bunny
- SESAME STREET Stays Up Late: Elmo (1984 - 2012), Cousin Pepe, Elmo-noske & Bjarne Betjent (English voice)
- Muppet Time: Do Re Mi Monster, Jeffy
- Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree: Father Mouse
- Muppet Treasure Island: Bad Polly, Spa'am, Black Dog, Real Old Tom; Muppeteerfor Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Sam the Eagle (some scenes), Mr. Bimbo
- The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss: Little Cat Fleep
- Muppets Tonight: Carter, Clifford, Composta Heap, Craniac, Galahad, Moo-Ing's henchman, Mulch, Lester Tomwater, Arthur Modell, Waldorf (101 & 110)
- Muppets from Space: Clifford
- The Adventures of Elmo in GROUCHland: Elmo (1984 - 2012), GROUCH Cab Driver, GROUCH Jailer, Pestie
- Muppet RaceMania: Clifford & Spa'am
- Bert & Ernie’s Word Play: Elmo (1984 - 2012),, The Frosty Four
- It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie: Sam the Eagle (voice only) & Clifford
- The Muppets' Wizard of Oz: Clifford
- SESAME Beginnings: Baby Elmo
- Elmo’s Christmas Countdown: Elmo (1984 - 2012), The Mouse King
- Panwapa: Azibo the Monster
- SESAME STREET: Grandpa MUDcat, "Madlenka" theme singer, "Feets Too BIG" shoe salesman
- BIG Bag: Avery
- A SESAME STREET Christmas Carol: Sam the Super Automated Ghost of Christmas Future
- Beginning Together (2006)
- Make Music Together (2006)
- A Celebration of ME, Grover (2004)
- Kids' Favorite Country Songs (2007)
- Let’s Eat! (1998)
- Here for You (2007)
- Abby in Wonderland (2008)
- The Adventures of Elmo in GROUCHland (1999)
- Elmo’s World (1998 - 2011)
- SESAME Beginnings (2006)
- Elmopalooza (1998)
- CinderElmo (1999)
- Coming Home (2009)
- Labyrinth (1986), assistant production coordinator
- Muppet Treasure Island (1996), puppet coordinator
- Dog City (1992 - 1995), puppet captain
- BIG Bag (1996 - 1998), production consultant
- His daughter Shannon was born in 1993. As a little girl, she thought Elmo was her brother. Later on:"[Laughs, impersonating his daughter] "Hi Daddy, can I speak to Elmo?" "Yeah, yeah, OK." [In Elmo’s voice] "Hi Shannon." "Hi Elmo — listen there’s this new Barbie that I…" [Laughs] Let me tell you, Shannon has earned many more Emmys than I have with her dramatics … I’d take my Emmy & put it down on the floor. [Applauding] "Oh, you deserve this, girl." 
- CLASH is left-handed.
- CLASH rarely ever appeared on talk shows without Elmo. 1 of the few instances in which he appeared on TV 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 11th, 2006 broadcast of Rove Live performing Elmo first & later appearing as himself with Elmo. Other appearances on TV as himself include Emeril Live & Grill It! with Bobby Flay. In the latter, he prepares a ribeye steak & his favorite vidalia onion recipe with butter & garlic which he describes as what SESAME STREET would call a "sometime food".
- CLASH made an appearance on The CW’s The Game in the 2009 episode "Do the Wright Thing" as the on-camera puppeteer of Mookie.
Awards & honorsEdit
- Clash won Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series for his work as Elmo & Hoots the Owl on SESAME STREET in 1990, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 & 2007.
- ↑ KEVIN CLASH - Archive Interview Part 1 of 4
- ↑ "Workshop promotes Elmo", C21|link=Media, 16th May 2007.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Jensen, Elizabeth & Stelter, Brian. "KEVIN CLASH, Elmo Puppeteer, Resigns", The New York Times Media Decoder blog. November 20, 2012.
- ↑ KEVIN CLASH, Puppeteer who voiced Elmo cleared of 3 sexual abuse lawsuits
- ↑ While locals referred to it as Turner's Station, its official name is Turner Station,.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love, & Laughing Out Loud.
- ↑ CLASH, KEVIN The MuppetCast Episode 48
- ↑ Elisa Chia, "Meet the grown-up behind Elmo", 31st July 2006.
- ↑ Anthony Breznican, "Sundance: 'Being Elmo’ reveals big-hearted man behind the fur", Entertainment Weekly, January 28th, 2010.
- KEVIN CLASH on IMDb
- Muppet Performers
- Muppet Puppeteers
- Muppet Voice Actors
- KEVIN CLASH Cameos
- KEVIN CLASH for the Muppet Wiki
- KEVIN CLASH for the Puppet Wiki
- KEVIN CLASH for the OSCAR THE GROUCH Wiki
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