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Richard Hunt, the Muppet performer behind Scooter, Statler, Janice, Beaker, Forgetful Jones, Junior Gorg and countless other characters from “The Muppet Show,” “Sesame Street” and “Fraggel Rock” died Tuesday morning, January 7, of HIV complications. He was 40 years old.

“Everyone at Jim Henson Productions shares this profound loss with Richard’s family. Richard and his many characters have been an integral part of our group for more than 20 years. His endless talents, great wit and indomitable spirit will be deeply missed by all of us… and I will miss a best friend and a big brother,” said Brian Henson, President of Jim Henson Productions.

Dulcy Singer, Executive Producer of “Sesame Street,” said, “Richard was a brilliant performer and an extraordinary person. We will miss his humor, his generosity, and his love. He will always be with us, inspiring us to reach as high as we can.”

“It’s impossible to imagine a world without Richard,” said Jon stone, Director of “Sesame Street. “He came to us a wide-eyed eighteen year old and grew into a master puppeteer and inspired teacher. No one ever had a more manic love of the outrageous and absurd; no one could ever make me laugh the way Richard could. 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.”

In addition to is extensive work on television, Richard’s career included puppeteering in Jim Henson’s feature films “The Muppet Movie,” “The Muppets Take Manhattan” and “The Great Muppet Caper” and appearances (as a human) in the film comedies, “Trading Places” and Oxford Blues.”

Richard’s most recent work included the award winning television specials “Sesame Street: Twenty and Still Counting,” and “The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson.”

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, February 2 at 3:30 pm at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street, New York City.

Donations may be made in Richard’s name to the Community Research Initiative on Aids, 31 West 26th Street, New York, N.Y. 10010.

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