While Kevin Clash performs several roles on Sesame Street, including Hoots the Owl and Baby Natasha, his name is synonymous with one in particular -- Elmo.
Elmo's character debuted in 1979, but it wasn't until Clash started performing him in 1984 that the effervescent red monster became the huge international sensation that he is today.
Clash, the third Muppeteer to perform Elmo, wasn't too enthusiastic about the character at first. But then he spent some time observing small children in the daycare center where his mother worked, and saw for himself that Elmo was resonating with them. The monster's joyful laughter and positive outlook on life struck a chord with kids and parents alike.
Clash created his first puppet when he was ten years old. In his 2006 biography, My Life as a Furry Red Monster, he recalls that one of his first creations was a monkey puppet made from the lining of his father's winter coat. His parents weren't too happy, but they were good sports about it, and supported his growing interest in puppetry.
Muppet designer Kermit Love noticed Clash's talent in 1979 and invited him to perform with the Muppets in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. He became an official Sesame Street puppeteer in 1984. Besides performing his regular characters, Clash has also sung in a variety of Muppet, film, and animation songs on Sesame Street, including One Fine Face, Happy Tapping with Elmo, One Small Voice, and Take Care of That Smile. Besides his performance work, Clash is Sesame Workshop's senior creative advisor. He is also Sesame Street's senior Muppet coordinatorand Muppet captain.
Clash's film credits include
- Jim Henson's 1986 fantasy film Labyrinth
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I and II
- Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets from Space
- and Elmo in Grouchland
His television work includes
- The Great Space Coaster
- Captain Kangaroo
- Muppets Tonight
He was co-executive producer for Elmopalooza, CinderElmo, and Elmo's World; co-producer for The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland; and he directs Sesame Street episodes and other projects. He directed and co-executive produced the Sesame Beginnings DVDs as well as the Kids' Favorite Country Songs DVD.
Clash has won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series for his work as Elmo and Hoots the Owl in Seasons 21, 35 and 36, and in 2001-2006 for his work as co-executive producer for Outstanding Pre-School Children's Series