Jerry Nelson, Muppeteer – 1934-2012

It is being reported that Jerry Nelson has passed away, aged 78.

Starting in 1965, Jerry Nelson was a Muppeteer. His first role was as Rowlf the dog’s right hand, filling in while Frank Oz had some time away. Nelson was right there, with Jim Henson, the two of them playing the piano in sympatico. What a great endorsement to get his career going.

But that was just the beginning.

Amongst Nelson’s most famous characters are Count von Count, Emmett Otter, Floyd Pepper, Kermit’s nephew Robin, Marjory the Trash Heap and Gobo Fraggle.

And I love them all. And I know that they’ll live on. And I know that they’ll somehow keep Jerry with us, in a way.

For the character’s first seven years, Nelson performed as Mr. Snuffleupagus, but in 1978, had to step aside over problems with back pain. It’s now been over a decade since Nelson started to phase out the rest of his Muppet performances, due to ongoing and varied health issues.

He continued performing as Floyd Pepper until 2005, and went on to provide the voice for Count Von Count, while Matt Vogel performed the gestures, right up until the character’s most recent recording sessions. There are still some of these new Count sketches to be aired.

While Nelson could not perform character roles in the new movie, he did contribute to last year’s The Muppets, reprising his role as the announcer for The Muppet Show during the big telethon sequence. It really could not, should not, have been any other way.

So let’s watch some Muppets. Thanks Jerry, and goodbye.