Kevin Jeffrey Clash (born September 17, 1960) is an accomplished puppeteer and director, best known as the original performer of Elmo on Sesame Street. On Oobi, he was a regular puppeteer. He played Randy and various incidental characters.
In addition to his role as Elmo, Kevin played many other Muppet characters, notably Clifford and Hoots the Owl. He served as the puppet captain and co-executive producer of Sesame Street for several years and was promoted to "senior creative advisor" at Sesame Workshop in May 2007.
He resigned from his role on Sesame Street in November 2012. He has since moved to Los Angeles and continues to puppeteer on Jim Henson Company projects.
Kevin Clash was raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He developed an interest in puppetry at an early age and performed for local TV shows in his teens. He joined the cast of Captain Kangaroo in the early 1980s and began performing on Sesame Street in 1984. He was the fifth puppeteer to perform Elmo, a puppet character that the crew was struggling with. Kevin successfully reinvented Elmo, and the character became very popular.
Kevin also worked as an executive producer and director for Sesame Street. From the 1990s onward, Clash worked in various productions with the Jim Henson Company. He published an autobiography titled My Life as a Furry Red Monster in 2006. In 2011, a documentary titled Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey was released, chronicling his time as a puppeteer.
He resigned from Sesame Street on November 20, 2012, after allegations of sexual impropriety, all of which he denied and were later dismissed due to expiration of the statute of limitations. Following his departure, Kevin has since continued working with the Jim Henson Company on projects such as The Happytime Murders and performing at the Puppets for Puppetry fundraiser event in September 2016.