(CBS News) Jerry Nelson, a puppeteer who was known for playing numbers-obsessed Count von Count on "Sesame Street," has died, The Jim Henson Company confirms. He was 78.
"Jerry Nelson imbued all his characters with the same gentle, sweet whimsy and kindness that were a part of his own personality," said Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company, said in a statement on the company's Facebook page. "He joined The Jim Henson Company in the earliest years, and his unique contributions to the worlds of Fraggles, Muppets, Sesame Street and so many others are, and will continue to be, unforgettable.
"On behalf of the Henson family and everyone at The Jim Henson Company, our deepest sympathies go out to Jerry's family and to his many fans," she continued.
No cause of death has been released.
Aside from playing the friendly vampire who teaches children how to count on "Sesame Street," Nelson also played Mr. Snuffleupagus and Mr. Grover's customer Mr. Johnson. He also played Gobo Fraggle on "Fraggle Rock" from 1983 to 1987.
The Washington, D.C. resident, who was born in Tulsa, trained with famed puppeteer Bil Baird, who created the "Lonely Goatherd" marionette act in the 1965 "The Sound of Music" film starring Julie Andrews.
He then worked with Muppet creator Jim Henson on "The Jimmy Dean Show," where Kermit and the Muppets first became popular.
Nelson started on "Sesame Street" in the 1970s and originated many characters. He played the Count until he retired in 2004.