SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

November 20, 2012

Elmo actor quits after second sex allegation

(Continued)

Clash denied the charge from that man, who has not been publicly identified, calling it “false and defamatory.”

Clash, the 52-year-old divorced father of a grown daughter, acknowledged that he is gay in that statement.

Sesame Workshop, which said it was first contacted in June by that accuser, said it had launched an investigation that included meeting with the accuser twice. Its investigation found the charge of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated.

The next day Clash’s accuser recanted his charge, describing his sexual relationship with Clash as adult and consensual. Clash responded that he was “relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest.”

It was in the mid-1980s that Clash, a young puppeteer at “Sesame Street,” was assigned a little-used puppet now known as Elmo and turned him into a star.

Besides his heavy presence on “Sesame Street,” Elmo has been a major moneymaker for Sesame Workshop. Elmo toys probably account for one-half to two-thirds of the $75 million in annual sales the Sesame Street toy line generates for toy maker Hasbro, which took over the Sesame Street license in 2010, estimates BMO Capital Markets analyst Gerrick Johnson.

Meanwhile, Clash became somewhat of a star himself. In 2006, he published an autobiography, “My Life as a Furry Red Monster,” and was the subject of the 2011 documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey.”

In addition to his marquee role as Elmo, Clash served as the show’s senior Muppet coordinator and Muppet captain. He won 23 daytime Emmy awards and one prime-time Emmy.

Though it remained unclear who might take over performing as Elmo, other “Sesame Street” puppeteers have been trained to serve as his stand-in, Sesame Workshop said.

“Elmo is bigger than any one person,” the company said last week.

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