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*Kevin Clash was born on this date in 1960. He is a Black puppeteer.
From Baltimore, Maryland, Clash is the distinctive voice for Elmo, the Muppet character. Elmo was introduced on "Sesame Street" in the 1980s. Clash began making puppets when he was 10, having been a "Sesame Street" fan from early childhood. He began performing with his puppets at age 12 in his neighborhood, later taking his act to Baltimore's Harborplace. Local Baltimore television personality Stu Kerr spotted Clash and hired him for his show, "Caboose."
In 1979, he began working for national television shows like "The Great Space Coaster" and "Captain Kangaroo." His work came to the attention of Muppet designer Kermit Love, and he joined the cast of "Sesame Street" full-time in 1985. At that time, the Elmo character existed, but his character did not emerge until Clash was given the task to develop it. Told to provide a voice for Elmo soon after joining Sesame Street as a puppeteer, Clash came up with Elmo's distinctive voice and laugh, turning the puppet into one of the show's most popular characters. It also netted Clash an Emmy Award.
Clash gave Elmo a falsetto voice and a sweet, curious outlook on the world, and soon Elmo was one of the most popular characters on "Sesame Street." Clash also contributed his voice to the "Tickle Me Elmo" doll, a marketing sensation in 1996. Clash also was executive producer for the film "Elmopalooza," (1998) co-producer for "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland" (1999), and co-executive producer for "CinderElmo" (1999) and "Elmo's World." Clash's other Muppet characters include Hoots, Natasha, and many others from "Sesame Street," Leon from "The Jim Henson Hour" and Clifford from "The Jim Henson Hour" and "Muppets Tonight." He also works as a talent scout for Jim Henson Productions.
Clash won an Emmy award in 1990 for outstanding performer in a children's series and again in 2001 for co-executive producer of "Sesame Street." Kevin Clash has a 9-year-old daughter, Shannon.
In November 2012, Clash resigned from "Sesame Street" in the wake of an allegation that he had sex with an under-aged youth. In its statement, Sesame Workshop said "the controversy surrounding Kevin's personal life has become a distraction that none of us want," leading Clash to conclude "that he can no longer be effective in his job." "This is a sad day for Sesame Street," the statement said.
As the announcement was made, a lawsuit was being filed in federal court in New York charging Clash with sexual abuse of a second youth. The lawsuit alleges that Cecil Singleton, then 15 and now an adult, was persuaded by Clash to meet for sexual encounters. Clash, who had been on "Sesame Street" for 28 years, created the high-pitched voice and child-like persona for Elmo, a furry, red Muppet that became one of the most popular characters on the show and one of the company's most lucrative properties.
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Image: Life Magazine