Elmo Puppeteer Kevin Clash Resigns from ‘Sesame Street’

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 21st, 2012 at 1:02 am,

kevin clash elmo resigns sesame street Elmo Puppeteer Kevin Clash Resigns from Sesame Street

We here at Screen Rant avoid discussing celebrity’s personal lives and issues, with the exceptions being when it affects an actual film project or television series (see: how the Kristen Stewart/Rupert Sanders affair has changed the direction of the Snow White and the Huntsman sequel). Hence, this is the first mention of the recent publicized allegations against longtime Sesame Street puppeteer Kevin Clash (a.k.a. the man responsible for bringing childhood icon Elmo to life).

Today, both the Sesame Workshop and Clash have issued statements announcing the latter’s retirement from the Sesame Street program after 28 years of service – with the intention to avoid further associations between the revered educational program and Clash’s personal matters (which he will now able to resolve in a more discreet fashion).

For those who are just tuning in: last week, it was revealed that Clash has been accused of having an intimate relationship with a now-24 year old man back when he was 16 (the age of consent in New York, where Clash resides, is 17). While that individual – identified as Sheldon Stephens - has since recanted his claim, today reports emerged (via the New York Times) that another person, identified by the name Cecil Singleton, has filed new court docs – alleging that he was underage when he engaged in a relationship with Clash (dating back to 2003).

Bear in mind, the legitimacy of these claims have yet to be proven in a public court of law; hence, for the time being, they are allegations, pure and simple. However, Clash has decided that his temporary leave of absence from Sesame Street (which was to allow him time to deal with these claims on his own) is not sufficient, by releasing the following statement:

I am resigning from Sesame Workshop with a very heavy heart. I have loved every day of my 28 years working for this exceptional organization. Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately.

The Sesame Workshop has issued its own public response on the matter:

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, and 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, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street. This is a sad day for Sesame Street.

sesame street pbs cpb Elmo Puppeteer Kevin Clash Resigns from Sesame Street

Of course, Clash (who was the subject of last year’s award-winning Sundance documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey) is far from the first public figure who’s essentially been forced to resign in response to personal issues that become widely-publicized. Such attention-grabbing matters (when dragged out in public) have a tendency to overshadow everything else an artist has accomplished in their career, regardless of how accurate or inaccurate the reported stories are ultimately proven to be.

In the meantime, production on future episodes of Sesame Street are expected to continue according to schedule. Clash had already selected a few puppeteers to continue portraying Elmo while he stepped away from the program, so it shouldn’t be long before a permanent replacement is selected.

Please keep the comments on this article civil. If commenters fail to bide by Screen Rant‘s rules for conduct, offending comments will be deleted.

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Source: The New York Times

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  1. It’s a damn shame but I guess he felt it was the best thing to do.

    Whether the allegations are true or not, I hope it doesn’t taint his work – not just as Elmo on Sesame Street but as Shredder in the original TMNT movies – for those who grew up with him, whether they knew who he was or not.

    • Just for clarification, Kevin Clash never had anything to do with TMNT or Shredder. James Avery (Uncle Phil on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) provided the voice in the original cartoon, and was played by James Saito and Francois Chau in the movies. There was Super Shredder played by Kevin NASH, but not Kevin Clash.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shredder_%28Teenage_Mutant_Ninja_Turtles%29

      • Weird because every time I’ve seen the end credits, it listed both Kevin Nash as well as Kevin Clash.

        I remember being a Diesel fan back when Nash was WWF champ in 93, noticing his name in the credits then wondering who this Kevin Clash guy was that was also listed.

        Maybe the UK had different credits to the US? Alls I know is, both men were listed at the end of the movie. Having quickly got my old VHS tape in response to your comment and doing a double speed fast forward to get to those end credits, I can confirm that both Nash and Clash ARE listed.

      • actually your wrong clash was spinter in the turtle movies not the cartoon your right about that and the shredder but he was mention as the voice of splinter look it up

  2. I have a feeling that if he never did that doc, this wouldnt happen

  3. The name of the guy clash had sex with was released. Hes not anonymous.

    • My apologies, the source article from the NYT identified him as still being anonymous.

      It’s been updated accordingly.

  4. I think you mean his work as Splinter not Shredder from the TMNT movies

    • He voiced Splinter?

      My bad.

      I got him confused because the pro wrestler Kevin Nash played Super Shredder in the second movie.

    • Indeed Kevin Clash was the puppeteer and voice of Splinte in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

  5. Whatever the case, I do hope that the truth does come out and appropriate action is taken.

  6. Guilty or not, this event is a sad shame either way.

  7. I feel like they should retire the character ELMO after this. But I know why they won’t —> $$$$$$$$ <———

    • Why? Should we “retire” paintings and movies when we find out things about the artist’s lives that we don’t like?

      I’ll never forget what a much older female co-worker said when people were discussing the Woody Allen “scandal,” and some people were saying they’d never see his movies again. She said, “if we judged art by the sex lives of the artist, we wouldn’t have much art.”

      • Eddie might mean because he basically made the character Elmo. If you watch ‘Being Elmo,’ none of the muppeteers wanted to work with the Elmo puppet so they gave him to Kevin to come up with a character for since he was a newbie. The same way that Caroll Spinney is Big Bird and Jim Henson was Kermit. (Although they didn’t retire Kermit when he passed away, so I doubt they’d do it for Elmo.)

    • Yes, Elmo should be retired. Always a weak character. Popular – yes. But not as strong as the characters who had their own agendas. Cookie Monster wanted cookies. Grover was always trying to help out even though he was a goof. Oscar just wanted to be left alone with his trash. Bert wanted to collect bottlecaps and spend time with his pigeons. Big bird was always there for Snuffy when he needed companionship, and then he would shuffle off and everyone would give Big Bird a hard time and accuse him of being a fantasist. I have debated the value of Elmo as an archetype many times, and still feel that he had no place on this show. Mr. Clash is a talented puppeteer, but it is for the best that Elmo go on vacation. Forever.

  8. I am not sure if I get the story straight. The people involved in this were consenting? It a problem because they were underage at the time. Or are they saying this was force on them ?

  9. It always goes to show, whatever is done in the darkness, will one day come to light. Fame is indeed a b****. Where was these accusers for the last 28 years ? Once a person becomes a sucess, someone is always trying to bring them down.

  10. what a load of trash, one guys says he was under aged then bails out when realising he has no case only to have some other poor f***ing joke take his place just for a quick cash grab and attention. america has the worst legal system ever, all it does is protect the rich and bend everyone else over. why dont people go get a job so that they dont have to sue people, that would be a nice solution imo.

  11. They should like definitely reboot Sesame Street and recast everyone! (sarcasm FYI…but they’ll probably do that)

  12. I don’t have any kids, but It’s impossible not to know who this “bright red Elmo” character is.
    No, they won’t retire Elmo, anyone can play him [now], though that may not have always been the case.

    on another note, as soon as the allegation came out, I think we all knew it was the end for Clash.
    whether the allegations turned out to be true or not, his name has been tarnished, and it would be virtually impossible for him to continue to work with kids in any capacity…

    then you had the guy recant the story, then come out again and say “it happened”..
    it’s just messy and no one, no corporation, no actor, no one wants to be party to this kind of publicity..

    I don’t even know how to comment on the story without being insensitive to any party..
    If it turns out he did some “wrong”, he’s ruined.
    If by chance he’s innocent of any “wrongdoing”, he’s still f***ed. I don’t see anyone coming back from this type of bad publicity

    unless you’re Michael Jackson or Kobe.

    ponderous..

    • Roman Polanski still got an Oscar and nothing happened to Woody Allen, nobody should be shocked by things anymore.

  13. So we need to keep it’s civil? Does that mean now mentioning of Joel Biden?

  14. This is a sad day indeed. If anyone saw Being Elmo, you’ll know how much work he put into getting where he was. It’s a shame he has to leave it all behind, and likely won’t be able to move on to new projects… Except maybe the new Muppet Movie

  15. I bet this is just a smear campaign encourage by the religious right republicans angry because they lost the election. They couldn’t take out big bird and PBS so those sore losers have to attack Kevin Clash voice of Elmo, just because he’s bisexual.

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