He was a tough nut to crack. He would befriend some people immediately, overwhelming them with the vastness of his generosity. Others, especially new puppeteers, he could regard with a rather devastating jaundice. I was definitely in the 2nd category until he came to see the new production called “Little Shop of Horrors” in 1982. I was performing the role of Audrey Two. After that he thought I was OK and we became friends over the years.
Richard was the most amazing performer. He’d be lying on his back; puppet on, monitor in his lap, reading the N.Y. Times. The floor manager would begin the countdown to tape… 5…. 4…. Richard would put down the newspaper…. 3…. he'd open up his script;… probably for the 1st time…. 2…. he'd raise his puppet into frame… 1… Go! And he’d be brilliant! Great characters, voices, relationships… everything. He had the ability to be incredible at the drop of a hat. It didn’t matter if he was playing a major character that was driving the scene, or a background minor puppet. He always made it shine in some special & unexpected way. I’ve tried to emulate that aspect of his professionalism in my own work.
Richard was always the first to welcome guest stars into our group. He would find some way to make them feel at ease, never suck up and poof! Any nervousness would melt away an they’d be best friends… sometimes actually for many years. God help you if you walked into the Sesame Street Studio with any kind of superior attitude though. He’d rip you to shreds. Stars, cast, and crew alike. If anyone “put on airs” he could be ruthless, but always fair.