Richard Hunt (puppeteer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Cause of death AIDS
Occupation Puppeteer[2]
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, Statler, Janice, Beaker 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 flirted with Hunt.[6] Hunt was close friends with Star Wars actor Mark Hamill.

Death[edit]

On January 7, 1992, Hunt died of AIDS related complications, in the Cabrini Hospice, Manhattan, at the age of 40.[7] Episode 3136 of Sesame Street, as well as The Muppet Christmas Carol were dedicated to his memory.

Following his death, his roles were taken over by David Rudman, Steve Whitmire, Matt Vogel, and Jerry Nelson.

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Film Role Notes
1979 The Muppet Movie Scooter, Beaker, Sweetums, various Puppeteer/voice
1981 The Great Muppet Caper Beaker, Scooter, Sweetums, various Puppeeter/voice
1983 Trading Places Wilson
1984 The Muppets Take Manhattan Beaker, Scooter, various Puppeteer/voice
1984 Oxford Blues Larry
1985 Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird Gladys the Cow, Turkey Puppeteer/voice
1987 A Muppet Family Christmas Scooter, Beaker, Sweetums, Placido Flamingo, Don Music, Gladys the Cow, various Puppeteer/voice
1990 The Muppets at Walt Disney World Beaker, Scooter, various Puppeteer/voice
1990 The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson Scooter, Janice Puppeteer/voice
1991 Muppet*Vision 3D Beaker, Scooter, Sweetums, various Puppeteer/voice; Theme park attraction
Television
Years Title Role Notes
1969–1992 Sesame Street Placido Flamingo, Don Music, Gladys the Cow, Forgetful Jones, various
1976–1981 The Muppet Show Statler, Beaker, Scooter, Sweetums, Janice, various
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
1990 The Cosby Show Statler and Disagreeable Sandwich

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Interview, Jessica Max Stein, August 17, 2011
  2. ^ "Richard Hunt; Puppeteer for 'Sesame Street,' 'Muppet Show'". 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. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
None
Performer of Scooter
1976–1991
Succeeded by
David Rudman
Preceded by
Eren Ozker
Performer of Janice
1977–1991
Succeeded by
David Rudman
Preceded by
Peter Friedman
Performer of The Two-Headed Monster
1978–1991
Succeeded by
David Rudman
Preceded by
None
Performer of Sonny Friendly
1986–1992
Succeeded by
David Rudman
Preceded by
None
Performer of Sully
1970s–1991
Succeeded by
David Rudman
Preceded by
Carl Banas
Performer of Sweetums
1976–1991
Succeeded by
John Henson
Preceded by
None
Performer of Beaker
1977–1991
Succeeded by
Steve Whitmire
Preceded by
Jerry Nelson
Performer of Statler
1976–1991
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