Claim: News of Ernie’s death will be reported on an upcoming episode of Sesame Street.
Origins: Following upon the heels of Jim Henson’s death on
off. Reasons given for the puppet’s demise ranged from no one else being able to do the voice to this being the show’s way of helping children learn to deal with death.
Both Jim Henson Productions and the Children’s Television Workshop fielded many worried inquiries about Ernie — some from callers in tears. No, there had never been plans to do away with Ernie (or any other muppet), they said. A new voice for the character would eventually be found, and in the meantime they would continue to weave old Ernie and Bert clips into the fabric of the show.
There was no need to teach the young viewers of Sesame Street about death; they already knew. The actor who played
Though there weren’t any real reasons for them (especially after
death by disease or death by traffic accident. In the disease category, cancer, AIDS, and leukemia were the front runners. Traffic accident deaths included pedestrian Ernie being hit by a bus, truck, or car; or his being a passenger in a vehicle involved in a fatal crash.
Though most of the whispers named Ernie as the Muppet marked for death (the late Jim Henson had been Ernie’s voice, after all), Bert also came in for mention. In addition to rumors about Bert being the one who’d be done away with (by the same methods ascribed to Ernie), stories also circulated that the man who voiced Bert had either been killed in a car crash or had died of AIDS.
Where did the rumor come from? A New Hampshire college student protesting what he perceived to be the inevitable removal of Ernie from Sesame Street is the likely source. Michael Tabor (22) of Derry, NH, wrote a letter to the New Hampshire Sunday News which was published in their
The final word on this legend comes from Children’s Television Workshop:
“Ernie is alive and well, and we have no intention of anything happening to him or anyone else,” said Carolyn Miller, spokeswoman for Children’s Television Workshop, which produces the show in New York.
Barbara “muppet but the truth” Mikkelson
Last updated: 5 August 2007