Jerry Nelson, who voiced The Count von Count and several other Muppets on the children's program "Sesame Street," has died at age 78, the Jim Henson Company confirmed on August 24.
"Jerry Nelson imbued all his characters with the same gentle, sweet whimsy and kindness that were a part of his own personality," Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company said in a statement on the company's Facebook page. "He joined The Jim Henson Company in the earliest years, and his unique contributions to the worlds of Fraggles, Muppets, Sesame Street and so many others are, and will continue to be, unforgettable. On behalf of the Henson family and everyone at The Jim Henson Company, our deepest sympathies go out to Jerry's family and to his many fans."
According to the Los Angeles Times, Nelson died at his home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts on the evening of Thursday, August 23, after suffering from emphysema for several years.
Nelson met Jim Henson at NBC affiliate WRC in Washington D.C., where The Muppets first came to be. The pair worked as puppeteers after moving to New York City in the 1960's and Nelson joined "Sesame Street" in the 1970's and "The Muppet Show" in the 1980's.
In addition to The Count, Nelson also created Muppet characters Mr. Snuffleupagus, Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Dr. Julius Strangepork and Camilla the Chicken. He also played "Fraggle Rock" creature Gobo Fraggle.
Nelson retired from puppeteering in 2004, but continued to provide voice work for The Count. He also portrayed a telethon announcer in the 2011 film, "The Muppets."
The children's series premiered in 1969 and still lights up television sets everywhere, offering a unique and entertaining method to teach young viewers with its educational content. The show features short films, animations, humor, and of course Jim Henson's famed puppets with characters such as Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch and Elmo.
In June, it was announce that Twentieth Century Fox has picked up the movie rights to "Sesame Street." It will not be the first time the loveable characters have been made into films, however, with 1985's "Follow that Bird" and 1999's "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland."
Nelson is survived by his wife Jan. According to the LA Times, their daughter Christine died of cystic fibrosis in 1982.