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Your Thoughts: Kevin Clash Biography

Discussion in 'Sesame Merchandise' started by Phillip, Sep 13, 2006.

  1. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member

    Our review of Kevin Clash's new biography, "My Life As A Furry Red Monster" is on-line. Along with the review, you'll see pictures of Kevin throughout the years along with an excerpt from the book's first chapter.


    Also, if you order Kevin's biography from the link below, a portion of the order will go back to Muppet Central, helping us keep the site and new projects coming in the future.


    Post below and let us know what you think about Kevin Clash's new biography.
  2. erniebert1234ss

    erniebert1234ss Well-Known Member


    This may have to be a part of my budding Muppet book collection. I might want to read it from the library at first, just like I did with Carroll Spinney's autobiography.

    I really want to see what makes Kevin Clash, and subsequently Elmo, tick. I drink this stuff up. I only wish that Frank Oz would do one, write about working with Jim, and then (as if THAT weren't enough) discuss some of his most famous characters (Piggy, Yoda, Grover, Bert, etc.) and kind of discuss what went into the voices. I for one would like that. Whether it happens or not is up in the air.

  3. BEAR

    BEAR Well-Known Member

    For those who have already read the book, does Kevin discuss any of his other characters besides Elmo (Hoots, Natasha, Clifford, etc.)?
  4. Cindy

    Cindy Moderator Staff Member

    No he doesn't discuss any of those... I think he briefly mentions Clifford and Muppets Tonight when he talks about his first experience in flying to LA and an awards show. That's is an interesting point though, I hadn't even thought about the fact of him not mentioning his other Sesame Street characters.

    For those of you who were there, he does talk about MuppetFest which is really cool.

    I agree with BJ, I would LOVE for Frank Oz to write a book. Although there is some Jim stuff in this book which is really nice. I love reading about Jim and how others perceived him.
  5. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Well, I finally found a copy. I think I am halfway through. The book is good, though Kevin Clash talks too much about Elmo, and not enough about his other characters. It is cool that he mentions some of his other characters, including ones who weren't around for too long, like Ferlingetti Donnizetti, and also some characters who I haven't even heard of untill now, like Juggles the Juggler.

    It seems like there are times when Kevin Clash mentiosn the year of some sort of event, gets the year wrong, and then later mentions the event again, only to get it right. I guess there weren't any proof readers to make sure it was consistent. For example, early in the book, he says that Richard Hunt asked him to take over as Elmo in 1983, but he later talks about performing Elmo for the first time in 1985. There is another time in the book where he incorrectly states that Elmo's World began in 1995, but later correctly says that it began on November 16, 1998.
  6. BEAR

    BEAR Well-Known Member

    I just started reading the book this weekend and I absolutely LOVE it!! I hate having to put it down. I have only gotten through the first chapter, but it has captured me. This is such an inspirational read and his stories and messages are beautiful. It is structured in a way that is similar to Caroll Spinney's book. Each chapter with a specific lesson or message. Like Spinney's book he shares a lot of wonderful stories from his past, including his childhood and life before the Muppets, but he also shares how he has learned so much through his own character. He has been taught by Elmo. My favorite part is where he talks about how when you throw something out into the universe, it will eventually come right back to you. We can all learn from that in the way we treat each other. Do good and good will be returned. I am thrilled to read the rest of the book. I have found a new respect for Kevin Clash and even more respect and understanding of Elmo and his mission to the world.
  7. JJandJanice

    JJandJanice Well-Known Member

    My two cents.

    This is just about the same thing I said in the "Last Book you've read" thread. But here's what I think...

    Pros-As Bear said it's an "inspirational read", I agree with that 100%. There were a lot of points in that book that made me think and even made me feel good about myself. It's probably the only book I've read in my whole life that made me really start thinking "if I really put my mind to it, I can do it". Truth be told, that alone makes it worth the 20 bucks I had to cough up for it.

    Cons- Bearly talks about any of his other characters. It would of been nice if he talked about what it was like to perform say...Leon from the Jim Henson Hour or even Baby Sinclair of Dinosaures fame. I mean sure Elmo is pretty much the butter to his bread, so to speak, but still it would of been great if he talked about say...why Leon didn't really catch on or how Clifford came about, just something besides Elmo. Also I would of love to have to have seen a few pictures of Kevin's early work as a puppeteer, and maybe him with Clifford or Elmo on his arm.

    But still overall a great book to read. Anyone who has not read the book yet. I think you should, you'll like it. Even if you don't really like Elmo.

    PS- I'm sorry for being a little off topic here, but what is Carroll Spinney's book called?
  8. BEAR

    BEAR Well-Known Member

    Spinney's book is called The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch).

    Yes, Kevin Clash's book is a must-read. It might even make some of you appreciate Elmo a little more and realize the good things he has done for the world and children.

    I think it would have been nice to read mention of his other characters too, atleast the other Sesame characters. Sure, Elmo is the most popular, but Hoots was introduced about the same time and was quite a prominant part on Sesame Street for a while. It seems that all he ever plays is Elmo now with the occasional Hoots appearance and now rare Natasha appearance. He only has a very small few of characters. But the book is understandably more about his relationship with Elmo and it is clear that the red monster has had a more profound influence on the world at large. Most people wouldn't really remember Kingston Livingston III or Hoots anyway.
    Hey, wouldn't it have been fun to see a photo of Kevin surrounded by all of his characters like the one with Jim Henson surrounded by his that floats around in books all the time, or like the one of Carrol with Big Bird and Oscar on his book? It would have Kevin with Elmo, Hoots, Baby Natasha, Kingston Livingston III, Ferlingetti Donnizetti, Clifford, Leon and Baby Sinclaire. Or if it's only Sesame characters that would be ok too.

    At any rate...I still say again that this book is worth reading more than once.
  9. JJandJanice

    JJandJanice Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that, cause I'm looking for more books to read on the net and I wasn't sure what that one was called. So thanks Bear.

    Yeah I would of loved to have seen a pic like that in the book. There was also one for Richard Hunt on a fan website. It's a drawing of Hunt with most (you know at least he's most famous) Muppet characters. It was a great pic with all them saying "Your face", it had Scooter, Janice, Sweetums, SS characters, Jurinor Gorg. It would of been cool if there was at least a drawing of Kevin Clash and his characters as well. Maybe even add Leon and Spliter (From TMNT) to it as well. That would of been awesome. Oh and maybe Billy Bunny and Bebop (Bunny).
  10. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    That kind of thing always annoys me, it's the proof reader's job to make sure dates and facts are consistent. But in my experience, autobiographies are often not checked for errors. Maybe they're hesitant to correct the person the book is about.
  11. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    It seems like Kevin Clash spends too much time talking about his personal, non-Muppet life, almost as much as he talks about Elmo. It is cool that he frequently mentions non-Sesame productions with the Muppets that he performed in, even if he doesn't specifically say who he performed. He also sort of repeats a quote he made in Jim Henson: The Works, where he talked about the closing sequence from The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years.

    He talks about Elmo being popular, but as far as I've read he never talks about Baby Sinclair. I mean, Baby was probably his most popular character at the time that Dinosaurs was on (I know Elmo was already around, and quite popular, but Baby Sinclair was marketed more during the time Dinosaurs was in production).

    It would have been great if he talked about The Jim Henson Hour and Muppets Tonight, and how he felt about performing Clifford as the host of Muppets Tonight as opposed to a supporting character/ musician.

    I've seen a few things that mention Caroll Spinney talkign about Elmo originating as Baby Monster, and then later becomming Elmo. It is cool that Clash mentioned that Elmo was called Baby Monster by the studio, too, though it seems like he was saying that he was called both at the same time. It's also interesting that he mentions that Elmo originally had a lot of performers, and then says "Including Brian Meehl". Of course, Brian Meehl was Elmoi's main performer during his first few years, but it sort of seems like Kevin Clash was randomly mentioning Meehl, and not others. He could have said that Brian Meehl was Elmo's main performer, as opposed to it sounding random as if Meehl was/ is a big-name celebrity. It's cool that he talked about some of Meehls other characters that he originated.

    I do find it sad at times, mainly when it talks about how he became so close to being a Muppet performer. I fidn it sad when it mentions that he was given a contract to perform in 10 episodes in 1983 and then it had to be torn up because the producers of the shows that he performed in full-time refused to work around hiss chedule. And it is sad when Kermit Love talked him out of performing in The Dark Crystal. I mean, if he had to leave those TV shows that he worked on, couldn't he at least try to come back to either (or see if Kermit Love could get him a job on Sesame Street)?

    He mentioned filling in whenever he could. Does that mean performing? I've read a post by Michael Earl Davis that stated that he originally performed Buster the Horse. I always thought that meant he performed Buster in 1980, since I've heard of that year being the year Buster debuted. It is strange that a part-time performer who only performed whenever he could would perform a regular character, unless Buster wasn't used much at first. And I wonder when he first performed Ferlinghetti Donnizetti. I think he first appeared in 1983. Did Kevin perform him originally, or did another performer (maybe Brian Meuhl) have the role?

    I wish he talked about more of his characters who didn't last long. Most of those characters are ones I never knew about. It would have been great if he discussed Kingston Livingston III and Dr. Nobel Price (or, when he mentioend that Brian Meuhl performed Elmo, he could have mentioned that he also performed Dr. Price, another character he took over as).

    If Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Steve Whitmire, or Dave Goelz ever write autobiographies, I hope that they talk about more than just their most famous characters, very little about their personal lives, and talk more about performing as opposed to life lessons.
  12. BEAR

    BEAR Well-Known Member

    minor muppetz, I don't understand. It is an autobiography which mean that it is a book about them...their lives. Don't you want to know about these people? That's the point of the book. It is about how Sesame Street has effected their lives also.
  13. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I didn't think about that. I guess I haven't read very many autobiographies (as far as I know, I've only read this and Caroll Spinney's autobiography). I've read a lot of biographies, which talk alot more about peoples careers in show buisness, but I never thought that somebody in show buisness might want to write more about their non-show buisness life. If I was a celebrity, I'd really only want to talk about my pre-celebrity life in chapter one, and make it short.

    We all want to know more about the Muppets. There are a lot of interesting facts about Kevin Clash that I didn't know untill reading this book. For an autobiography who has worked for the Muppets for a long time, I'd expect more to be said about how he liked the characters he performed, characters he disliked performing, characters he turned down opportunities to perform, and more about the productions that he performed in. Maybe talk about some inspiration for some scenes or characters. For example, it would be interesting if he talked more about the song Put Down the Duckie (I'm guessing that he didn't... I'm not finished with the book), or Elmo's Song. I am also for interesting facts about some productions that, while interesting to read about, might not be worth putting on the Muppet Wiki website (or in the trivia section of the Internet Movie Database, or trivia sections on any sites about movies and television).

    I think that Caroll Spinney's autobiography has a perfect balance of info about his personal, non-performing life and his professional, performing life.
  14. JJandJanice

    JJandJanice Well-Known Member

    I have to say I didn't really think of that as "sad", I thought Kermit Love knew what he was talking about. Kermit Love told Kevin that you don't want to be known as someone who doesn't fullfil your promises of sorts. Kevin signed up to do theos shows back than, Captain Kagaroo and Caboose, I believe. And it really wouldn't have said too much about Kevin's character had he just left the characters he was perfroming on thoes shows to go off and do the Dark Cyrstal. Sure the Dark Cyrstal is a bigger deal than thoes shows, and it seems like he would of been set. But he would probably have to do resumes, just like for anyother job. So how do you think Kevin would sound if some producer guy from Sesame Street called some guy from, say, Captain Kagaroo and the CK guy says something like "well he's a good puppeteer, but prove to be unreliable." A lot of shows would want to have anything to do with him, and we probably won't have this book, because I doubt Kevin Clash would be as famous (well at least Elmo) as he is now.

    Besides it's needless to say that this choice along with all his choices he's made in life were the right ones for him. He's doing really well now.
  15. wes

    wes Well-Known Member

    I just finished reading the bio, My thaughts are he really likes his charactor Elmo and it's had a profound impression on his life. I didn't realize how long he has been doing Elmo 20 something years i don't remember Elmo when I was Younger. I would have to say in all honesty i like Carroll Spinney book better may be it's because he's older. any way it was OK. I like pictures in a bio
  16. rurulesunc

    rurulesunc Well-Known Member

    Ok just finished the book a couple of days ago. The big thing that stood out to me (and that Im surprised no one has mentioned yet) is the typo that glares at you...

    "Jim Hensen"

    I think its somewhere in Chapter 2. I am a big spelling freak and personally I find it hard to take anything as trustworthy or from a reliable source when there are obvious typos. (Watch, now I will make some in this post)

    Now having said that I did enjoy the book. I wish it would have been longer and like has been said, included more behind the scenes moments. I did enjoy learning more about him growing up and wouldnt cut any of that out, I would just add more about the more recent parts of his life.

    I really just cant get over that they missed such an obvious typo. Spell check doesnt catch everything.

    Anyway, just my two cents.
  17. erniebert1234ss

    erniebert1234ss Well-Known Member


    It is obviously a great book, spelling errors overlooked. You can almost expect them these days.

    Kevin actually is getting much more respect from me. I understand now what he's doing for the kids.

    Maybe I should write to him and explain where I think SS needs to go in the future (i.e. being kids' friends, not their parents, etc.).

  18. Blinky_Fish

    Blinky_Fish Well-Known Member

    I am still reading the book... I find that it's a good book and the jumping between Elmo and Kevin's stories makes it a lot more fun. - Caroll's book and Kevein's are much different - so I feel that you can't really compare.

    Go buy it!
  19. travellingpat

    travellingpat Well-Known Member

    I thought it was a great book, well worth the money (although mine was a gift :) ) A definate buy for any fans!
  20. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I noticed in one part of the book, Kevin said that it's easier to work around the schedules of full-time performers, but part-time performers are more difficult, because they are busy working on other shows. I wonder if Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, or Richard Hunt (or even Fran Brill) were considered part time or full time. It has been said that during the early years the main performers (with the exception of Caroll Spinney) usually only speant one month per season performing in new material. Would that make them full-time or part-time? And, of course, during the late 1970s theyw ere busy with The Muppet Show, and shortly after that Jim Henson would be busy with many other productions, and Frank Oz would be busy directing movies.

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