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Muppeteer loses battle with HIV

USA TODAY
January 9, 1992

JaniceRichard Hunt was hardly a household name, nor a familiar face.  But for a generation that came of age watching and learning with the Muppets, he'll long be remembered as the cut-up behind perky Scooter, grumpy Statler, flower-child Janice and many more characters.

Hunt, a core Muppeteer at Jim Henson Productions for more than 20 years, died Tuesday at age 40 of HIV complications.  It's another sad setback for the company that lost its founder last year.

''It's impossible to imagine a world without Richard,'' says Sesame Street director Jon Stone. ''He came to us a wide-eyed, 18-year-old and grew into a master puppeteer and inspired teacher. ...A generation has grown up absorbing Richard's art, and I have to believe that every one of them is a smarter, funnier, stronger, sillier, more generous person because of him.''

A memorial service is planned for late January.

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