June 27, 2008

Creature Creator Kermit Love Dead at 91

Kermit Love, a former costume designer who helped create some of the most memorable non-human characters on TV's Sesame Street, has died in New York.

Arthur Novell, executive director of the Jim Henson Legacy, a group dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Jim Henson's contributions, told The Los Angeles Times Love died last weekend of pneumonia in Poughkeepsie at the age of 91.

Love, a native of New Jersey, helped Henson create the Sesame Street characters of Big Bird, Mr. Snuffleupagus and Oscar the Grouch. However, he was not -- as many have mistakenly assumed -- the namesake of Kermit the Frog, whom Henson created before teaming up with Love.

Love, who also appeared on Sesame Street as Willy the hot dog man, also created Snuggle Bear, the cuddly character from the Snuggle Fabric Softener commercials, as well as the creatures from the series The Great Space Coaster, The Times said.

Before his association with Sesame Street, Love designed costumes for Orson Welles's Mercury Theater, and worked as a marionette maker and stage and film designer.

He also collaborated with choreographers like George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, Robert Joffrey, Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp on numerous ballets, the newspaper said.