Muppet stalwart Jerry Nelson dies at 78

Puppeteer had worked with Henson characters since 1965

Puppeteer Jerry Nelson, famous for voicing numerous Muppet characters such as Count Von Count and Herry Monster from “Sesame Street” and Gobo Fraggle on “Fraggle Rock,” died in his Cape Cod, Mass., home on Thursday. He was 78 and had suffered from emphysema.

A contributor to nearly every project produced by the late Muppet master Jim Henson, Nelson retired from puppetry in 2004, though he continued to voice several characters up until his death.

Born in Tulsa, Okla., Nelson joined Henson’s cast of Muppeteers in 1965 and joined the cast of “Sesame Street” full-time in 1970 for the show’s second season.

“Jerry Nelson imbued all his characters with the same gentle, sweet whimsy and kindness that were a part of his own personality,” said Lisa Henson, daughter of Jim Henson and current CEO of the Jim Henson Co. “He joined the Jim Henson Co. 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,” she wrote.

“Every description of his characters describes Jerry as well,” said “Sesame Street” exec producer Carol-Lynn Parente. “Silly, funny, vulnerable, passionate and musical, for sure. That voice of his was superb.”

Sesame Workshop, the company that produces “Sesame Street,” hailed “the artistry in his puppetry, his music, and the laughter he brought to children worldwide.”

Nelson also contributed to the 1984 movie “The Muppets Take Manhattan.”

“Sesame Street’s” new season launches in September and Nelson’s voice will be heard.

In 2010, he released the album “Truro Daydreams.”

Survivors include his wife, Jan.

(Associated Press contributed to this report.)