Top Ten Jerry Nelson Muppet Characters

(Photo via Sesame Street Workshop)

Legendary Muppet puppeteer Jerry Nelson passed away last week at the age of 78. He worked on Sesame Street and with the Henson company for more than 40 years. Though he normally played secondary characters behind folks such as Frank Oz and Jim Henson himself, Nelson’s resume is packed with characters that many of us grew up with. We rank the best ones here.

10) Mr. Snuffleupagus

Nelson performed the voice of Mr. Snuffleupagus from 1971-1978, when the character was still Big Bird's imaginary friend. (Snuffy was outed in 1985. No longer imaginary.) Nelson had to stop performing him due to back problems.

9) Dr. Julius Strangepork

Dr. Julius Strangepork was the old guy in the "Pigs in Space" sketches along with Captain Link Hogthrob and First Mate Piggy.

8) Camilla the Chicken

Believe it or not, Gonzo's love wasn't a real chicken, but a muppet. And someone had to provide the voice of the chicken, and that man was Jerry Nelson.

7) Lew Zealand

This guy was great because he had one primary purpose: Throwing fish.

6) Robin the Frog

Though I've previously argued that Robin is one of the worst Muppets, I'll acknowledge that he has a following and deserves a spot on this list. Here's my favorite skit involving Kermit's nephew.

5) Floyd Pepper

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Floyd Pepper served as the guitarist for the Electric Mayhem band on the Muppet Show.

4) Biff (with Sully)

I've always thought Biff (with good ol' pal Sully) was one of the most underrated characters on Sesame Street. He had that perfect New Yorker construction worker voice.

3) The Two-Headed Monster

Like many Muppets, these characters had a number of performers, but in their heyday, Nelson teamed up with Richard Hunt, spending 11 years (1980–1991) under there.

2) Gobo Fraggle

Nelson was a big part of Fraggle Rock, performing such characters as Gobo, Pa Gorg and Marjory the Trash Heap.

1) Count von Count

Now Mr. Nelson is up in heaven, counting angels.

Bonus: Statler

Nelson performed Statler (right, of Statler and Waldorf) in 1975, and also after the death of Richard Hunt, from 1992–2001. Which means even though Nelson did perform this character, it wasn't in the glory days of Jim Henson and Hunt performing the duo.

Other characters (of many) performed by Nelson:

  • Dying Skeskis Emperor and the Skeksis High Priest (The Dark Crystal)
  • Sherlock Hemlock
  • Herry Monster
  • Simon Soundman
  • Pops the doorman
  • Frazzle
  • Mr. Johnson
  • J.P. Grosse, theater owner
  • Little Jerry of the band “Little Jerry and the Monotones”
  • Uncle Deadly
  • Amazing Mumford

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