Richard Hunt (puppeteer)

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Richard Hunt
Born (1951-08-17)August 17, 1951[1]
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Died January 7, 1992(1992-01-07) (aged 40)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of death
AIDS
Resting place
Cremation
Occupation Actor, puppeteer,[2] voice artist, comedian
Years active 1969-1992

Richard Hunt (August 17, 1951[1] – January 7, 1992) was an American puppeteer, best known as a Muppet performer. Hunt's Muppet roles included Scooter, Beaker, Janice, Statler, and Sweetums.

Early life[edit]

Hunt was born in The Bronx, New York City on August 17, 1951, the second of five children. The family eventually moved to Closter, New Jersey some years later.

Because everyone in his family had worked in show business at some point, Hunt always felt he would end up in entertainment as well. While in middle school and high school, he put on puppet shows for local children, and he was a fan of the then-fledgling Muppets from a young age. After high school graduation and a four-month stint of doing weather reports at a local radio station, Hunt pursued a meeting with Jim Henson.[3]

Career[edit]

After being hired to work on Sesame Street, Hunt mostly performed background characters in early specials. One of his first major performances was as Taminella Grinderfall in The Frog Prince, puppeteering the character while Jerry Juhl performed the voice.[4]

He also did Scooter and shared Miss Piggy with Frank Oz until the final quarter of the first season of The Muppet Show. Hunt performed many characters on Sesame Street, including Forgetful Jones, Placido Flamingo, Don Music, Gladys the Cow, Sully, and an early version of Elmo. On Fraggle Rock, Hunt's main role was the performing the facial expressions and voice of Junior Gorg, but he also performed Gunge (one of the Trash Heap's barkers), and several one-shot or minor characters.

He has also directed several home videos such as Sing-Along, Dance-Along, Do-Along and Elmo's Sing-Along Guessing Game, as well as an episode of Fraggle Rock.

Hunt was good friends with fellow puppeteer Jerry Nelson. A lot of their characters were paired together such as Nelson's Floyd Pepper with Hunt's Janice; the Two-Headed Monster; and Nelson's Pa Gorg to Hunt's Junior Gorg on Fraggle Rock. Also on that show, Hunt's characters were often paired with those performed by Steve Whitmire.

Personal life[edit]

Hunt was openly gay.[5] When Rudolf Nureyev, who was also openly gay, made a guest appearance on The Muppet Show, Nureyev rather bluntly hit on Hunt.[6] Hunt was close friends with Star Wars actor Mark Hamill.

Death[edit]

Hunt died of AIDS-related complications on January 7, 1992 at the age of 40.[7] Episode 3136 of Sesame Street and The Muppet Christmas Carol were dedicated to his memory. Following his passing, his roles were taken over by David Rudman, Steve Whitmire and Jerry Nelson. In some instances, such as the film Muppets from Space, his brother Adam Hunt provided the voice in post-production.

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Film Role Other notes
1979 The Muppet Movie Scooter, Janice, Beaker, Statler, Sweetums, various Puppeteer/voice
1981 The Great Muppet Caper Scooter, Janice, Beaker, Statler, Sweetums, various Puppeeter/voice
1983 Trading Places Wilson
1984 Ghostbusters Lorenzo
The Muppets Take Manhattan Scooter, Janice, Beaker, Statler, various Puppeteer/voice
Oxford Blues Larry
1985 Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird Gladys the Cow, Feathered Friends Owl Puppeteer/voice
1987 A Muppet Family Christmas Scooter, Janice, Beaker, Statler, Sweetums, Forgetful Jones, Placido Flamingo, Don Music, Gladys the Cow, Sully, Two-Headed Monster, various Puppeteer/voice
1990 The Muppets at Walt Disney World Scooter, Janice, Beaker, Statler, various Puppeteer/voice
1990 Basil Hears A Noise Two-Headed Monster, Dip Cat Puppeteer/voice
1991 Muppet*Vision 3D Scooter, Beaker, Statler, Sweetums, various Puppeteer/voice; Theme park attraction
Television
Years Title Role Other notes
1971-1992 Sesame Street Forgetful Jones, Placido Flamingo, Don Music, Gladys the Cow, Sully, Two-Headed Monster, various Puppteer/voice; credited on show until 2001
1976-1981 The Muppet Show Miss Piggy (first season), Scooter, Janice (second season onwards), Beaker, Statler, Sweetums, various Puppteer/voice
1983-1987 Fraggle Rock Gunge, Junior Gorg, Beige Fraggle, Firechief Fraggle, Flex Doozer, Gillis Fraggle, Lambo, Herkimer Fraggle, Mean Genie, Mudwell the Mudbunny, The Odd Old Man, various Puppeteer/voice
1984-1992 The Cosby Show Statler, Blue Frackle, and Disagreeable Sandwich Puppeteer/voice
1985 Little Muppet Monsters Tug Monster, Scooter, Janice, Beaker (Voice), Animated Muppet Shorts Narrator (Voice) Puppeteer/voice

Television[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Interview, Jessica Max Stein, August 17, 2011
  2. ^ "Richard Hunt; Puppeteer for "Sesame Street," "Muppet Show"". The Los Angeles Times. January 11, 1992. Retrieved 2010-12-19. 
  3. ^ Finch, Christopher (1993), Jim Henson: The Works, Random House, ISBN 0-679-41203-4 
  4. ^ Ask Henson, question 60, archived from the original on 3 October 2000 
  5. ^ Stein, Jessica Max (2011). "The Rainbow Connection: Richard Hunt, Gay Muppeteer". Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  6. ^ Kaiser, Charles (1997), The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America, Grove Press, ISBN 978-0-395-65781-2 
  7. ^ "Richard Hunt; Puppeteer, 40". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 April 2013. [dead link]

External links[edit]


Preceded by
None
Performer of Scooter
1976 - 1992
Succeeded by
Matt Vogel
Preceded by
Eren Ozker
Performer of Janice
1977 - 1992
Succeeded by
Matt Vogel
Preceded by
Peter Friedman
Performer of The Two-Headed Monster
1978 - 1992
Succeeded by
David Rudman
Preceded by
None
Performer of Sonny Friendly
1986 - 1992
Succeeded by
David Rudman
Preceded by
None
Performer of Sully
1970s - 1992
Succeeded by
David Rudman
Preceded by
Carl Banas
Performer of Sweetums
1976 - 1992
Succeeded by
John Henson
Preceded by
None
Performer of Beaker
1977 - 1992
Succeeded by
Steve Whitmire
Preceded by
Jerry Nelson
Performer of Statler
1976 - 1992
Succeeded by
Jerry Nelson
Preceded by
Michael Earl Davis
Performer of Forgetful Jones
1981 - 1992
Succeeded by
None
Preceded by
Brian Muehl
Elmo
1984 - 1985
Succeeded by
Kevin Clash

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