Jerry Nelson, acclaimed puppeteer and the man behind Sesame Street's Count von Count, passed away on Thursday at age 78, CBC News reports. Jim Henson fan site Tough Pigs, which broke the news, notes that while no cause of death has been identified, Nelson's health has been declining in recent years.
Nelson began working on Sesame Street in the 1970s, where he brought beloved characters such as the Count and Mr. Snuffleupagus to life. Nelson also played Gobo Fraggle on Fraggle Rock from 1983-1987 and numerous characters (including Sgt. Floyd Pepper and Camilla the Chicken) on The Muppet Show. In a career that spanned six decades, Nelson puppeteered over 1,000 named Henson characters.
While Nelson retired from his puppeteer duties in 2004, he continued providing the voice for the Count until his death.
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[Photo Credit: Theo Wargo/WireImage]