Count von Count

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Count von Count
Sesame Street character
Count von Count kneeling.png
First appearance November 27, 1972
Portrayed by Jerry Nelson (1972–2012)
Matt Vogel (2013–present)
Aliases The Count
Species Muppet vampire
Gender Male

Count von Count, often known simply as "the Count", is one of the Muppet characters on Sesame Street. The Count is a vampire modeled after Bela Lugosi's interpretation of Count Dracula.


The Count's main purpose is educating children on simple mathematical concepts, most notably counting. The Count has a love of counting; he will count anything and everything, regardless of size, amount, weird choices he makes or how much annoyance he is causing the other Muppets or human cast. For instance, he once prevented Ernie from answering a telephone because he wanted to continue counting the number of rings in Season 6. Another time, while serving as an elevator operator, he refused to let Kermit the Frog get out at his selected floor so he could count on every floor in the building. Another time he decides to have a sleepover at his good friends Bert and Ernie's basement apartment home; Bert gives Count his bed next to Ernie for the night; but when Count is unable to sleep Ernie suggests that he counts sheep but this ends up causing the Count's fun to get so loud that his counting sheep game while keeping Ernie up at night, ends up lasting until the next morning. When Bert wakes up to greet Count he says he had a blast with Ernie and asks for another sleepover but Bert is frightened when he sees an extremely tired unrested Ernie who is counting sheep to get rest but is acting like a mummy or crazy guy in the process. Still another notable moment is when he insists on counting the number of hairs on Gordon's head (even though he was bald and had no hair), simply declaring, "Zero! There are zero hairs on Gordon's head!" but then proceeds to start counting the little hairs on Gordon's mustache.

The Count has had various girlfriends. Nearly every one of his girlfriends is a lady vampire called "The Countess." The Count once dated a Countess called "Countess Von Backwards" and when sharing his love for her, he asks for marriage; when the Countess says she will love him but does not need marriage to him; the Count repeatedly counts her declines and continues to ask. In another episode he invites another Countess girlfriend of his, Dahling Von Dahling to his castle to watch a segment they starred in; called "Twenty Something." In the segment the Count and Countess learn that Twenty Something is not a number; when their daughter (Prairie Dawn) comes in mentioning various stuff such as her boyfriend's age, how many cents she needs for a bus ride, etcetera she always says "Twenty something" leading the Count to unsuccessfully try to correct her repeatedly.

The Count also will give anything to count; for example in one episode Guy Smiley tells the Count that if he accomplishes a deemed impossible task to bring two things down from the sky in 20 seconds he will win his heart's desire. The Count counts down the seconds of the time much to Guy's frustration until the Count's thunder and lightning comes thus winning the Count his heart's desire. When offered such rewards of a trip to Florida, or a million dollar fortune, the Count chooses to ask for another 20 seconds that he can count.

The Count is very goofy, funny and friendly but can lose his temper or show displeasure for interruptions of counting; for example in one episode he got upset with Cookie Monster because Cookie wanted to eat the apples that the Count wanted to count. The next time he saw Cookie Monster he was forced to let Cookie eat the apples after he counted them to prevent arguments. Another time when he has nothing to count he gets sad and almost cries until he finds an idea of counting his feelings inside of him thus making him happy again. Also in his early appearances for the first two years his old skit involved him appearing a little bit spooky, quite easily angered, counting and chuckling manically (Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!!!) and thunder and lightning would boom more loudly until parents wrote to Sesame Street saying that their kids were a little bit afraid of the Count; they changed his attitude to his normal skit.

A typical role of the Count is him saying to the audience "Greetings, it is I the Count. They call me the Count because I love to count things." Then he would find something to count and say "That is one (insert object here)" and go on until he would then smile after counting; and chuckle "Ah... ah... ah!" following a calm sound of thunder and lightning before continuing until he found a reason to move on from his performance for the other cast.

According to BBC News, during an interview with the More or Less team's Tim Harford, the Count said his favorite number is 34,969. The Count was quoted as saying, "It's a square-root thing."[1]

The Count mentions 2:30 at any chance he can get and often makes jokes about it. This number may represent an inside joke ("Tooth Hurty"). During the afternoon, his segments of the show always come on at exactly 2:30 p.m. or during the "fashionably late" segment, which airs at 2:31.

While the other Muppets have signature songs (Ernie with Rubber Ducky, Bert with Doin' the Pigeon, or Big Bird with "ABC-DEF-GHI", Oscar the Grouch with "I Love Trash", Cookie Monster with C is For Cookie for example) the Count has his own signature song: "8 is Great." He sings about how "Eight is great" because "You can hold it this way you can hold it that way it is still eight." His most famous performance of the song is in a colorful background as he holds up a foam cutout of the number eight.

The Count has made several appearances besides the Muppets; he appeared in a TV special celebrating the first year of a news show Countdown with its anchorman Keith Olbermann where he gave them a charm shaped like the number 1 while at the same time Sesame Street was celebrating its 35th year in broadcast. He also has appeared in concerts, TV broadcasts etcetera.

The Count lives in an old, cobweb-infested castle which he shares with many bats. Sometimes he counts them. Some of the pet bats are named, including Grisha, Misha, Sasha, and Tatiana. He views them as his "children." He has a cat, Fatatita, as well. Sometimes he counts her. As a running gag, his house has a squeaky door to which the people visiting him try to remind him about only for the Count to instantly change the subject to his counting addiction. The Count also drives a special car designed in the features of a bat, named the Countmobile which he drives in the movie Follow That Bird when going to find Big Bird (Role below)...

The Count has been shown with a number of girlfriends. Always a feminized version of the Count Muppet, they have included Countess von Backwards (debuting in Sesame Street's 28th season) who counts backwards; Countess Dahling von Dahling (debuted in the 12th season), and one simply named "The Countess" (first appearing in season 8). The von Count family also includes an unnamed brother and mother as well as an Uncle Uno and grandparents.

In the movie Follow That Bird, when his good friend Big Bird is exiled from Sesame Street by a dodo family his final message to Big Bird is to "Remember to Count". When Big Bird gets homesick and flees his new home the Count searches for him in his Countmobile; on the way he joins in a song with the others about not giving up but comically gets off track of the song's point by singing about counting telephone poles, counts how many people are at the meeting about finding Big Bird, and one time in the movie counts how many cars from Sesame Street are going to find Big Bird.

Jerry Nelson voiced the Count until his death on August 23, 2012. Matt Vogel started performing the puppetry of the Count, with Nelson still performing the voice. Vogel started performing both the Count's voice and puppetry shortly after Nelson's death, and surprised some viewers because he sounds just like Jerry Nelson. His first performance of the Count was in a YouTube video called "Counting the Yous in YouTube", a song about the celebration of Sesame Street's YouTube channel reaching 1 billion views.

History and evolution of the character on Sesame Street[edit]

The Count debuted on Sesame Street in Season 4 (1972–73), and was conceived by Norman Stiles, who wrote the first script. The Count was performed by Jerry Nelson, who brought the character to life. He was originally made out of the Large Lavender Live Hand Anything Muppet pattern.

In the early 1970s, following a counting session, the Count would laugh maniacally, "AH AH AH AH AH!", accompanied by thunder and lightning flashes. He wouldn't let anything interrupt his counting, and used hypnotic powers to temporarily stun people with a wave of his hands.[citation needed] This practice, however, was discontinued in the mid-1970s because of concern that young viewers would become frightened. In the mid-1970s, the Count became friendlier, did not have hypnotic powers, and interacted more with the characters (both live actors and Muppets). His laugh also changed from maniacal laughter to a more triumphant, stereotypical Dracula-style laugh.

Belvedere Castle, in New York's Central Park, was used for exterior establishing shots of the Count's castle on the show.

The Count made an appearance in the film The Muppets Take Manhattan at Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy's wedding, then in the Sesame Street movies Follow That Bird and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. Notably, the Count appeared on-screen during the closing credits of Follow That Bird where he proceeded to read and count the credits. He also says "Hi, Mom" when a credit appears for Joan Ganz Cooney, creator of Sesame Street.[2]

In Season 33, the Count got a daily segment on Sesame Street, simply called The Number of the Day.


  • In the Dutch version of the series, Sesamstraat, the Count's name is Graaf Tel (literally, "Count (nobleman) Count (process of counting)").
  • In the French series 1, Rue Sésame, his name is Comte von Compte.
  • In the German series Sesamstraße, his name is Graf Zahl (literally, "Count Number").
  • In the Hebrew series Rechov Sumsum, his name is 'מר סופר', phonetically pronounced 'Mar Sofer', which literally means "Mr. Counter".
  • In the Mexican series Plaza Sésamo, his name is Conde Contar (literally, "Count of Counting").
  • In the Polish series Ulica Sezamkowa, his name is Liczyhrabia (literally, "Countcount").
  • In the Portugal series Rua Sésamo, his name is Conde de Contar (translated as "Count of Counting").
  • In the Russian series Улица Сезам, his name is Graf Znak (Граф Знак) (translated as "symbol" or "sign" as the mathematical categories).
  • In the Spanish series, Barrio Sésamo, his name is Conde Draco.
  • In the Turkish series Susam Sokağı, his name is Sayıların Kontu (literally, "The Count of Numbers")

Appearances outside of Sesame Street[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

The St. Paul Saints, an independent minor-league baseball team in St. Paul, Minnesota known for unique and sometimes over-the-top promotions, announced that it would give away 2,500 bobblehead dolls dressed as the Count at its May 23, 2009 game. However, instead of the Count's regular head, this doll's head featured Al Franken on one side and Norm Coleman on the other, and was called "Count von Re-Count"—referring to the extraordinarily prolonged recount and legal battle surrounding the 2008 U.S. Senate election between the two men. The team made further jabs at the election during the game.[3]

Australian rugby league football international Anthony Minichiello has been nicknamed 'The Count' due to his striking resemblance to the character.[4]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Why was 34,969 Count von Count's magic number?". BBC America Online. August 30, 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Associated Press (2009-05-23). "Saints' gimmick jabs at Senate race". Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  4. ^ Movie star Muppets at

External links[edit]