Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kermit Love (1916-2008)

Kermit Ernest Hollingshead Love was a puppeteer and a costume designer. He got his start as a WPA puppeteer and worked for Orson Welles' Mercury Theater. He ended up working with everyone who was anyone in dance and Broadway and spent 40 years collaborating with George Balanchine, perhaps most spectacularly on Don Quixote, where he created a 28 foot marionette. He is most famous for his work on Sesame Street, where he designed Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus and helped create Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch. (Amazingly, Kermit the Frog is not named after him, as Jim Henson notes the frog was named before their collaboration.) Notoriously protective of his creation, even he accompanied Big Bird to China for a performance only a year after Nixon's famous trip there. Big Bird got his own seat, at half price because Big Bird is forever only six years old. Love's other creations include the Snuggie Bear, the fabric softener mascot, and Aza, mascot of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Love died of congestive heart failure at age 91 on June 21, 2008, survived by Christopher Lyall, his partner of fifty years.

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