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Kermit Love dies at 91

Discussion in 'Henson People' started by Brooklyn, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. Blinky_Fish

    Blinky_Fish Well-Known Member

    Kermit created his visions with his glue, string, cloth and feathers – He also opened our minds with the ability to communicate through the characters he helped create. Being on the older end of the Sesame generations, I know what he has accomplished in my time here. Just imagine what things we missed from such a brilliant creator. We all may never know what he has done for us all. But he chose to help us imagine through his creations, and he harvested the need to be good to one another through a bunch of socks with glitter and feathers.

    Thank You Kermit Love for your wonderful imagination and devotion to puppetry and childhood imagination. Thank you for the opening of creative minds, like Kevin Clash , Rick Lyons and so many others. Your teachings that will be handed down to keep the craft alive.

    Safe Journey Sir.
  2. Brooklyn

    Brooklyn Well-Known Member

    Would love to see if there is a way to pay tribute to him on the MuppetCast.....hint, hint.
  3. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    We need to make a thread or somthing where people can pay there respects here on Muppet Centeral as well. I think that the thread that we found out about it is just not the right place to really cellebreat the man.
  4. Brooklyn

    Brooklyn Well-Known Member

    Kermit Love - NYT Obit

    Kermit Love, Costume Creator, Dies at 91


    Kermit Love, the costume designer for some of ballet’s most renowned choreographers whose greatest fame came as a creator, with Jim Henson, of the beloved “Sesame Street” characters Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus, died on Saturday in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He was 91 and lived in Stanfordville, N.Y.
    The cause was congestive heart failure, said Christopher Lyall, Mr. Love’s partner of 50 years.

    Although Mr. Love collaborated with luminaries of dance like George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, Robert Joffrey, Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp, it was the 8-foot-2, yellow-feathered Big Bird and his 7-foot, woolly mammoth-like friend Mr. Snuffleupagus — both perennially 6 years old — that brought him global attention.

    “For Kermit, the costume was just the beginning,” said Kevin Clash, who is now senior puppet coordinator for “Sesame Street” and considers Mr. Love his mentor. “He taught how to create the character out of the costume.”

    Caroll Spinney, 74, the man inside the bird since “Sesame Street” was first telecast in 1969, said, “We traveled the world doing shows for kids, sometimes with Big Bird conducting orchestras.”

    In 1973, Mr. Spinney said, he and Mr. Love and a “big, hooped sack” containing Big Bird flew to Beijing to perform, a year after President Richard M. Nixon’s diplomatic breakthrough with Communist China. He said that Mr. Love was “was very picky about how the bird was handled.”

    Big Bird had his own seat, Mr. Spinney said, adding, “They gave us a half-priced ticket because he was only 6 years old.”
    Mr. Henson, the creator of “Sesame Street,” who died in 1990, did the original sketches of Big Bird. Mr. Love built the bird, with its manhole-sized orange foam feet. He added feathers (with some designed to fall off) to make the creature cuter. Inside, Mr. Spinney controlled Big Bird’s mouth with his hand and the eyes with a lever attached to his pinky finger. A television monitor inside the puppet allowed Mr. Spinney to see the set.
    Mr. Love, who, with his Santa Claus-like beard played Willy the Hot Dog Man on the show, also helped design Oscar the Grouch and Cookie Monster; he insisted he was not the namesake of the famous frog. He created characters for 22 foreign versions of “Sesame Street.”

    It was Mr. Love’s work fashioning costumes and masks for dance that brought him to the attention of Mr. Henson. He had also worked in film and theater, including doing costumes for Broadway shows like “One Touch of Venus” in 1943 with music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Ogden Nash; Mary Martin was the star.

    A 1998 Dance magazine profile of Mr. Love said, “Regardless of the genre in which he works, each of his costumes is special because he seems to know a character’s personality and history and gives every detail a reason for being, historically as well as aesthetically.”

    Mr. Love worked on . de Mille’s “Rodeo” in 1942 and, two years later, on Robbins’s first ballet, “Fancy Free.”

    Mr. Love worked with Balanchine for more than 40 years. In 1965, he built the 28-foot-high marionette for the Balanchine production of “Don Quixote.” A decade later, they collaborated on “L’Enfant et les Sortilèges” (“The Spellbound Child”), a one-act opera that tells the tale of a bratty boy who tears up his house and tortures his cat and squirrel, but is then taught lessons by objects that come to life. For the 1981 television production of the work, Mr. Love created settings and costumes, including dancing chairs, a clock that spins away from a wall and life-size owls, frogs and dragonflies that flutter about the boy.

    For the Joffrey Ballet’s “Nutcracker,” Mr. Love dressed the mice in suits of armor.

    How many “Nutcrackers” had he done? “Oh God, so many ‘Nutcrackers,’ ” he once said.

    Despite his assumed English (and sometimes French) accent, Kermit Ernest Hollingshead Love was born in Spring Lake, N.J., on Aug. 7, 1916. His father, Ernest Love, was a decorative plasterer. His mother, Alice, died when he was 3, and he was raised by a grandmother and a great-grandmother.

    Young Kermit was first fascinated with Punch-and-Judy puppets at 7. “But what inspired me even more was shadow play,” he told New York magazine in 1985. “I can remember rigging a lantern and casting shadows on the wall.” Thrown by a horse at 12, he suffered serious damage to both legs. Bedridden for three years, he listened to radio dramas and drew pictures of what he imagined the characters looked like.

    Mr. Love began making puppets for a federal Works Progress Administration theater in 1935 and soon after was designing costumes for Orson Welles’s Mercury Theater. Then he began working with Barbara Karinska, the costumer for the New York City Ballet.

    Mr. Love is survived by Mr. Lyall.

    Like a doting father, Mr. Love worried about Big Bird. In 1985, the two rode the Metroliner to Washington for the Easter Egg roll on the White House lawn.

    “The grass stained his feet,” Mr. Love complained to New York magazine. “He had to have his soles replaced.”
  5. Fragglemuppet

    Fragglemuppet Well-Known Member

    Thank you for sharing that.

    RIP Kermit Love, who, if I may say so, had the coolest name ever!
  6. travellingpat

    travellingpat Well-Known Member

    RIP Mr Love....hm isnt that interesting that two very important Kermits died within like 2 weeks.....rip mr love, thanks for all youve done
  7. Redsonga

    Redsonga Well-Known Member

    I remember his face as the hot dog man but I never knew he had such a big part in all of SS :(! Gosh, it's like losing a grandfather...We'll miss you Mr. Love ;.;!
  8. Traveling Matt

    Traveling Matt Well-Known Member

    Sad news indeed. Sesame would not have been the same without him.

    RIP Mr. Love.
  9. anytimepally

    anytimepally Well-Known Member

    Where will I get my hot dogs now? :( :cry:
  10. Traveling Matt

    Traveling Matt Well-Known Member

    from Yahoo News...

    'Big Bird' costume creator Kermit Love dies at 91

    Wed Jun 25, 2008 / 11:52 AM ET

    POUGHKEEPSIE, NY - Kermit Love, the costume designer who helped puppeteer Jim Henson create Big Bird and other Sesame Street characters, has died. He was 91.

    Love died from congestive heart failure Saturday in Poughkeepsie, near his home in Stanfordville, Love's longtime partner Christopher Lyall told The New York Times.

    In addition to his work with Henson, Love was a designer for some of ballet's most prominent choreographers, including Twyla Tharp, Agnes de Mille, Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine.

    Love also designed costumes and puppets for film and advertising, including the Snuggle bear from the fabric softener commercials.

    Sesame Street, public television's groundbreaking effort to use TV to teach preschoolers, premiered in 1969. Henson designed the original sketches of Big Bird, and Love then built the 8-foot, 2-inch yellow-feathered costume.

    It was Love's idea to add a few feathers designed to fall off, to create a more realistic feel.

    "The most important thing about puppets is that they must project their imagination, and then the audience must open their eyes and imagine," he told The New York Times in 1981.

    Love also helped design costumes and puppets for Mr. Snuffleupagus, Oscar the Grouch and Cookie Monster, among other characters. He even appeared on the show himself as Willy, the fantasy neighborhood's resident hot dog vendor.

    But Love always insisted Henson's famous frog wasn't named for him, according to The New York Times.

    Caroll Spinney, who has played Big Bird since Sesame Street began, said he knew Love was gravely ill but didn't know he'd died until Tuesday.

    "Kermit was definitely a totally unique person," 74-year-old Spinney said. "He looked very much like Santa Claus but was a little bit more like the Grinch."

    In addition to designing the Big Bird costume, he added, "Kermit really helped me with dramatic coaching, and he was wonderful at that."

    Born in 1916, Love began making puppets for a federal Works Progress Administration theater in 1935. He also designed costumes for Orson Welles' Mercury Theater. From there he began working with the New York City Ballet's costumer.

    In his 2003 book, The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons From a Life in Feathers, Spinney recalled that after a year on Sesame Street, he felt he couldn't live in New York on his salary.

    Love told him to give it a month; the next week, Big Bird was on the cover of Time magazine and Spinney couldn't imagine leaving.

  11. mikebennidict

    mikebennidict Well-Known Member

    Good one.
  12. lowercasegods

    lowercasegods Well-Known Member

    I was listening to NPR last night when the announcer says "And coming up next, we remember Big Bird's creator...", and my heart just sank. My first thought was "Please let this be a retrospective of Jim Henson", though I knew it didn't coincide with either his birthday or date of passing. But my greatest fear was that we'd somehow lost Carroll Spinney. Having just lost makeup and special effects genius Stan Winston, I didn't think I could handle it. But when I found out it was Kermit Love whom we lost, it was far from a sigh of relief that Carroll was spared. Granted, Love led a long, wonderful puppet filled life, but any loss of a Muppet great is a loss to the fans. He will be missed and loved eternally.
    Zappetman likes this.
  13. Zack the Dog

    Zack the Dog Well-Known Member

    :sympathy:Very sad news, He was just as much a part of Big Bird as Carroll Spinney is, it's good to know that Kermit Love lived a long life to see how his puppets evolved and continued to be a part of peoples lives every day.:wisdom:
    Zappetman likes this.
  14. Daffyfan4ever

    Daffyfan4ever Well-Known Member

    That's interesting information, especially considering that to this day Spinney is still willing to perform Big Bird until he is no longer able. Kermit Love must have been a great mentor to him.
  15. Traveling Matt

    Traveling Matt Well-Known Member

    from the Los Angeles Times...

    Kermit Love, 91; helped create memorable 'Sesame Street' characters

    His design work on one of the most influential television shows in history made him a partner in the early education of generations of children.

    By Jocelyn Y. Stewart, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
    June 26, 2008

    After years of designing costumes for ballet and theater, Kermit Love found his way to "Sesame Street."

    Working with Jim Henson, Love helped create Big Bird, Mr. Snuffle- upagus and Oscar the Grouch.

    The funny-looking creatures became a magnet for preschoolers, pulling them in to watch "Sesame Street," helping them to learn.

    Love, whose design work on one of the most influential television shows in history made him a partner in the early education of generations of children, died Saturday of pneumonia in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., said Arthur Novell, executive director of the Jim Henson Legacy, an organization dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Jim Henson's contributions.

    He was 91.

    Though most adults knew Love for designing characters, children who saw him on "Sesame Street" knew him as Willy the hot dog man.

    Love also created Snuggle Bear, the pitch man for Snuggle Fabric Softener.

    Long before "Sesame Street" and children's television, Love had transformed his childhood love into a successful career.

    Born in Spring Lake, N.J., on Aug. 7, 1916, Love began staging puppet shows while in his teens.

    Later he designed costumes for Orson Welles' Mercury Theater and made a name for himself as a marionette maker and a stage and film designer.

    For decades he collaborated with some of the greatest choreographers of the 20th century: George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, Robert Joffrey, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp.

    His many ballet credits include the 28-foot marionette for Balanchine's "Don Quixote" in 1965 and the masks for Pulcinella in 1972.

    But it was on "Sesame Street" that Love's work found its largest audience.

    "Kermit was for 20 years kind of the father to Big Bird," said Caroll Spinney, the performer inside Big Bird who has played the part since the show's inception in 1969. "He was well pleased" with his creation.

    The collaboration that led to the birth of America's best-known bird almost did not happen.

    After he met with Henson in the late 1960s, Love thought "no two people have less in common."

    But Henson, who knew of Love's successful career in theater and ballet, invited Love to join him on the nascent "Sesame Street" project.

    Love often explained that he was not the namesake of Kermit the Frog, whom Henson created before the two men joined forces.

    The idea for Big Bird was Henson's, but Love's expertise "made the realization of that character possible," said Rick Lyon, who once worked for the Henson Company.

    "Frankly a lot of people who design stuff don't really have a working knowledge about how things are made," said Lyon, who designed and built the puppets in the stage production "Avenue Q."

    "Kermit had a really good sense of how to engineer something."

    Big Bird is a puppet that Spinney steps into. He uses his hands to move the character's head and arm.

    Creating a puppet, Love once said, is an organic process, "it simply grows," he said.

    Eventually Love used about 6,000 dyed feathers from domestic white turkeys to make the more-than-8-foot-tall Big Bird.

    Big Bird is known all over the world, and often Love traveled with him. Once in 1972, Big Bird was scheduled to give a live performance for children on a college campus.

    Love and Spinney arrived at the location where they'd stored him to find that college students had ravaged the character, plucking out feathers, and nearly one of his eyes. Love and Spinney were mortified and worked to glue the feathers back in, sew the eye, and perform, Spinney said.

    At his New York studio, Love also designed puppets for overseas versions of "Sesame Street," whose casts often feature different characters.

    In Israel the cast includes a pink porcupine. For the version that ran in Kuwait, Love designed a Big Bird-like character that was not an animal or a person, but a talking shape, said Spinney.

    The puppets on "The Great Space Coaster," a children's television show that ran in the 1980s, were Love's designs, and he also had a public television puppet show called "Whirligig."

    "The scope of Kermit's work is truly astonishing," Lyon said. "He had such a diversity of output."

    Frustrated by the more narrow scope of projects at Henson Company, Love often pressed them to do more productions for adults, Lyon said.

    Though born and raised in New Jersey, Love spoke with a British accent. He looked enough like Santa Claus to portray him on the cover of New York magazine.

    "He was a mentor to so many young people in" puppetry, Spinney said. "He would spot children on the subway and say, 'Madam, we could use your child on "Sesame Street.'"

    Love also helped jump-start the career of Kevin Clash, the performer who plays Elmo. Clash's portrayal made the character a hit.

    Though he had no children of his own, Love said in a 1991 Newsweek article he had "raised so many people's families.

    "I have a million children."

    Zappetman likes this.
  16. Traveling Matt

    Traveling Matt Well-Known Member

    and from The Guardian...

    Kermit Love

    He designed and nurtured Big Bird, doyen of Sesame Street and the Muppets

    by Veronica Horwell
    Friday, June 27, 2008

    Although Kermit Love, who has died aged 91, costumed the first great all-American ballets, Rodeo and Fancy Free, was George Balanchine's prime visualiser for half a century and perfected Twyla Tharp's modern look, his legend lies in his work on the gawkiest creature ever to waddle down a sidewalk.

    Love made and maintained Big Bird, the 8ft 2in core character on Sesame Street, the US television learning show that was the foundation of the Muppet universe. He made other Jim Henson and Frank Oz imaginings feasible too, for 22 international versions of the Street, and sometimes wandered down it himself as Willy the Hot Dog Man (he looked like a grumbly version of Father Christmas). But the Bird was family, and he never gave up supervising its welfare.

    Love came from a craft background, the son of a plasterer in Spring Lake, New Jersey, but was raised by his grandmother and great-grandmother, who introduced him to 19th-century amusements - Punch and Judy and magic lanterns. He imitated the fashion for shadow puppets, the basis of Lottie Reiniger's early, ballet-like, animated films. Love's legs were seriously injured when a horse threw him, and between the ages of 12 and 15 he was confined to bed, drawing characters he knew only as voices in radio serials.

    He started work at 19 making masks and marionettes for a New Deal Works Progress Administration theatre, then did a little acting and costumes for Orson Welles's Mercury theatre in New York. He discovered the workshop of Barbara Karinska, an émigré Russian, who had made costumes for the Ballets Russes in Europe, and did the same for Balanchine's American dance troupes. Love admired her work, and she executed his sketches for the cowboys of Rodeo (1942) and the sailors of Fancy Free (1944). It was difficult to make the girls the matelots picked up look like ladies rather than tarts, but he did it with genteel matching accessories.

    Love worked on Broadway, including the 1943 musical One Touch of Venus, and after the war went to Europe, first to spangle the girls at the Paris Lido (they taught him about the kinetic possibilities of feathers), then to work in film in London. On his return to the US in 1962, he began his close collaboration with choreographer Balanchine. He told Dance magazine that they had been like a couple of kids together, thrilled at living in Manhattan with all its toys (Love drove a red Porsche), regarding themselves not as artists but as craftspeople, even tradespeople.

    Together, they set and solved problems for the New York City Ballet and other companies. Love's gift was for textile sculptures that transformed a dancer into a combination of human and puppet, while retaining character, and among other wonders he made the truck-height marionette for Don Quixote (1965) and the wings of The Firebird (1972). Their finest synergy was on Ravel's short opera L'Enfant et les Sortilèges. Love designed decor and costumes for a stage production in 1975, and redid it for a Public Broadcasting Service television version in 1981, with magical full-body-puppet clock, chairs and teapot all singing away, and a corps de ballet of frogs and butterflies.

    Love was proud of the fantastic panto horse, to a sketch by Picasso (who adored the snorting-nostrilled result), for a 1973 revival of Parade, and he lost count of the Nutcrackers he had garbed, his favourite being the 1987 Joffrey Ballet presentation with the mice in full armour and a bemedalled Mouse King, every medal different. He mutated the ballet's Mother Ginger, usually a character role, into a huge rag doll.

    Working for the Judson Dance Theatre in the 1960s, he met Tharp just as she began as a choreographer, and was among those who helped sharpen her image (she and her dancers stopped wearing sneakers and had their hair cut by Vidal Sassoon). Later he costumed more than a dozen Tharp ballets with what he called "stuff that didn't get in the way" - and did not romanticise.

    While with Judson, Love was asked to lunch with puppeteer Henson. They came up with a proto-Muppet dragon, swishing its tail catastrophically down a supermarket aisle for a television commercial. Later Henson called, asking for help with a tricky character that would not move right. It was Big Bird, for Sesame Street, first broadcast in 1969. Henson had the drawings, Love made them real, basing the Bird's lankiness, loping gait and lolloping feet on Henson's own. Some of the feathers were loosely attached, so they would shed on screen. Henson also contributed to the shaggy mammoth Snuffleupagus, Oscar the Grouch and the Cookie Monster, although, as he told inquirers, he did not lend his name to Kermit the Frog. Love worked through old age on Muppet creation, sometimes puppeteering as well, and articulated a manky teddy for Snuggle commercials, and other beastie mascots.

    But Big Bird was Love's baby. He carried pictures of his Muppets in his wallet. He and Caroll Spinney, now 74, who has been inside the bird get-up from the start, travelled the world doing live shows for children. Big Bird was given his own seat on the plane to Beijing for a gig in 1973, but was charged half-price, as the character was meant to be forever six years old. Everybody was enchanted by Big Bird. Love said Balanchine "believed in Big Bird, he accepted it totally - there was nobody inside it, it was Big Bird." It was the only compliment Love ever needed.

    He is survived by Christopher Lyall, his partner of more than 50 years.

    · Kermit Ernest Hollingshead Love, designer of entertainments, born August 5 1916; died June 21 2008

  17. fuzzygobo

    fuzzygobo Well-Known Member

    What a week. Kermit Love and George Carlin, RIP
  18. SesameStMuppets

    SesameStMuppets Well-Known Member

  19. erniebert1234ss

    erniebert1234ss Well-Known Member

    I heard about this over at MuppetCast.com, so RIP Kermie. :)

    What a weird couple of weeks, Kermit Scott, George Carlin, and Kermit Love. The "rule of 3" takes three more geniuses from us. :cry:

  20. mbmfrog

    mbmfrog Well-Known Member

    Dang, this is a sad weekend for me, first Comics book artist Micheal Turner dies due to cancer and now this happens to the Muppets.

    Any reason for the cause of his death ? :(

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