Kevin Clash

CLASH & Elmo.

Sesame Street Kevin Clash Elmo

CLASH w/ Elmo

Kevin Clash Elmo headshot

CLASH w/ Elmo.

KEVIN JEFFREY CLASH[1] (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.[2] The 2011 documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteers Journey chronicles CLASHs 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.[3] CLASH has since been twice cleared of the charges.[4]

SESAME Workshop released a statement on November 20th:

"SESAME Workshops 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 KEVINs 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.[3]"


KC JH Kermit legs web

CLASH was born & raised in Turners Station, a predominantly "black" suburb of Baltimore, Maryland.[5]

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.[6]

CLASH began building puppets at age 10. CLASHs 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. [6] His parents were supposedly more amused than angered when he cut his fathers good overcoat apart to create a monkey puppet with the fuzzy black lining.[6] As a tribute, Elmos parents were named George & Gladys in an Elmos World segment; their names have since been changed.

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

Early TV workEdit

Clash & Henson

CLASHs 1st 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 & 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 & his characters

CLASH w/ some of his primary Muppet characters.

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 Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade, & extra puppeteers were needed for the SESAME STREET float. CLASH was brought in to perform Cookie Monster for the event.[6]

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. [6]

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 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[7] 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.

More MuppetsEdit

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 Bunnys 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 Waldorfs 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, Its 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 OZs 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 characters voice, but not the Muppetry, in Its 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 HENSONs 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.

On Dinosaurs, CLASH starred as Baby Sinclair & also played Howard Handupme & various episodic mammals.

Reflecting on his decades as a Muppeteer, in the fall of 2006, KEVIN CLASH released an autobiography titled My Life as a Furry Red Monster.


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 CLASHs Elmo, who quickly became Zoes best friend, & vice versa. BRILL & CLASH have had several other pairings over the years also:



The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation interviewed CLASH in 2004 for the Archive of American Television. The 2-hour interview was posted on YouTube in 2008.

Muppeteer CreditsEdit

Kevin Clash Elmo Emmy

CLASH & Elmo appearing at the Emmy Awards.

Animation voicesEdit

Production creditsEdit





  • His daughter Shannon was born in 1993.[8] 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 Elmos voice] "Hi Shannon." "Hi Elmo listen theres this new Barbie that I" [Laughs] Let me tell you, Shannon has earned many more Emmys than I have with her dramatics Id take my Emmy & put it down on the floor. [Applauding] "Oh, you deserve this, girl." [9]
  • 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 CWs The Game in the 2009 episode "Do the Wright Thing" as the on-camera puppeteer of Mookie.


Awards & honorsEdit

Special extra imagesEdit


  1. KEVIN CLASH - Archive Interview Part 1 of 4
  2. "Workshop promotes Elmo", C21|link=Media, 16th May 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jensen, Elizabeth & Stelter, Brian. "KEVIN CLASH, Elmo Puppeteer, Resigns", The New York Times Media Decoder blog. November 20, 2012.
  4. KEVIN CLASH, Puppeteer who voiced Elmo cleared of 3 sexual abuse lawsuits
  5. While locals referred to it as Turner's Station, its official name is Turner Station,.
  6. 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.
  7. CLASH, KEVIN The MuppetCast Episode 48
  8. Elisa Chia, "Meet the grown-up behind Elmo", 31st July 2006.
  9. Anthony Breznican, "Sundance: 'Being Elmo reveals big-hearted man behind the fur", Entertainment Weekly, January 28th, 2010.

See alsoEdit

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