Jerry Nelson is dead. I never knew the puppeteer, but I vividly recall Count Von Count, the lavender-faced Transylvanian puppet who taught preschoolers how to, well, count. Why? Because he loved to count. (And I have to assume, got paid for it.)
Sesame Street debuted on November 19, 1969 when I was 10 years old, too old for the kiddie show. But my baby siblings weren’t, so I got a daily dosage of it, followed in time sequence by Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, and grew to love them both. But by and far, my favorite character was the Count, who was introduced to the cast in 1972. I don’t know if it was his affected accent or his sense of humor, but I loved the guy. And I loved how my baby brother, then 3, would imitate him, right down to the Dracula-esque pronunciation of numbers. It cracked me up. I wondered if every child entering kindergarten in those years would end up sounding like a mini Bela Lugosi.
The Count also launched my personal love affair with the Muppets, which also affected my son’s life, as a slew of Muppet movies were released when he was little. I enjoyed them because they are adult-funny as well as kid friendly.
As I get older, death makes me more nostalgic. So as we say goodbye to Jerry Nelson, click here if you want to enjoy him one more time.