Friday, January 31, 2014

Constance Marks: 'Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey' (2011)

Constance Marks' Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (2011) focuses on Kevin Clash and his evolution as a puppeteer from Baltimore to New York City, from local TV (and Romper Room) to the final years of the decades-running Captain Kangaroo, reaching the heights of puppeteering as Elmo on Sesame Street. It's a memorable journey, indeed, starting with a love of puppet-making and supportive parents.

Marks also performed as Hoots the Owl and Ferlinghetti Donizetti, among other hepcat Muppets. Let's not forget the global phenomenon that was "Tickle Me Elmo" beginning in the mid-1990s.

Kevin Clash earned a great deal of money for his work -- he was, or is, worth something like $12 million. After the release of this excellent documentary, he retired from Sesame Street in the wake of legal suits involving his sexual orientation (he is gay) and the age of consent of certain partners -- all such suits have apparently since been dropped.

Now an aside. I remember Captain Kangaroo well, especially the talking Mr. Moose and an array of pingpong balls dropping from the ceiling for no apparent reason. I was watching The Twilight Zone in those same years, so such weirdnesses seemed not that strange at all. Plus, Captain Kangaroo's world was considerably more benevolent, of course, a nice counterbalance. As a kid, I was often reminded that the real Mister Green Jeans lived at Shawnee on Delaware, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, where my Dad and family had lived. I originally hail from nearby East Stroudsburg. 

Today's Rune: Harvest. 


Charles Gramlich said...

I've heard good things about this. Will have to check it out.

jodi said...

Erik-I watched Capt. Kangaroo too and then Sesame Street with my son. Grover was our favorite SS character. Totally underrated!!