Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey

  • BY Constance Marks | IN Arts & Culture
    Premiered April 5, 2012

About the Film

Every day, millions tune in to Sesame Street to see one of the world’s most adored and recognizable characters — a furry red three-and-a-half year-old monster named Elmo. Yet, with all of Elmo’s fame, the man behind the icon is able to walk down the street without being recognized. MORE

Meet Kevin Clash.

As a teenager growing up in Baltimore in the 1970s, Kevin had very different aspirations from his classmates — he wanted to be a puppeteer. More specifically, he wanted to be part of Jim Henson’s team, the creative force responsible for delivering the magic of Sesame Street on a daily basis. With a supportive family behind him, Kevin made his dreams come true.

Combining amazing archival footage with material from the present day, filmmaker Constance Marks explores Kevin's story in vivid detail and chronicles the meteoric rise of Jim Henson in the process. Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and including interviews with Frank Oz, Rosie O’Donnell, Cheryl Henson, Joan Ganz Cooney and others, this insightful and personal documentary offers up a rare, behind-the-scenes look at Sesame Street and the Jim Henson legacy.

The Filmmaker

Constance Marks

Producer and Director Constance Marks is an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker who began her filmmaking career over 30 years ago as an assistant editor for the renowned cinema verité pioneers, David and Albert Maysles. Her previous films include Return to Appalachia, Let’s Fall in Love: A Singles Weekend at the Concord Hotel, and Green Chimneys. For Being Elmo, Marks teamed with Producer Corinne LaPook, Director of Photography/Producer James J. Miller, co-director/editor/writer Philip Shane, editor/writer Justin Weinstein, and composer Joel Goodman. LESS

Film Credits

Directed and Produced by
Constance Marks

Producer and Director of Photography
James Miller

Produced by
Corinne LaPook

Co-Directed, Edited, and Written by
Philip Shane

Edited and Written by
Justin Weinstein

Music by
Joel Goodman

Narrated by
Whoopi Goldberg

Digital Arts and Animation by
Magnetic Dreams Animation Studio

Producer for Post Production
Constantine Limperis

Assistant Editor
Roger Matthews

Post Coordinator
Steve Kullback

Post Editor

Supervising Sound Editor
Sync Sound

Additional Editing
Constantine Limperis
Anne Alvergue
Kristin Nutile

Mookie Puppet Built by
Animax Designs

Legal Services Provided by
Prior Cashman, LLP

Rights and Clearances
Donaldson & Callif
Peter Jaszi

David Magdael & Associates

Distribution Advisor
Submarine Entertainment

Advertising and Design
The Compound

Post Production Assistant
Adam Chazen

Film / Photo Research
Chris Cliadakis

Insurance Services Provided by
D.R. Reiff & Associates

Duplication Services Provided by

Special Events Coordinator
Diane Koones

Production Assistants
Charles Macleay
Sophia Miller

Production Interns
Nina Goldman
Sam Pasternack

Jim Henson Memorial Footage
Courtesy of the Jim Henson Family Collection
© All rights reserved

Footage from The Muppets on Puppets
Courtesy of WITF TV, Harrisburg, PA
©1968 WITF, Inc.

Footage from The Muppets Make Puppets
Courtesy of WIFT TV, Harrisburg, PA
©1969, WIFT, Inc.

Footage from Labyrinth, The World of the Dark Crystal,
and Inside the Labyrinth
Courtesy of The Jim Henson Company

Footage from Muppet Meeting Film
Courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

Footage from The Oprah Winfrey Show
Courtesy of Harpo Productions, Inc.

Rove Footage
Courtesy of Roving Enterprises

Amtrak Footage Provided by Doubletime Productions and Amtrak

Additional Footage
ABC News Videosource
Victor Di Napoli and Arlene Sherman
Thought Equity Motion
Charles Beardsley Archives
Film Archives, Inc.
Getty Images
Footage World
Sesame Street / Sesame Workshop
Steve Whitmire
The Arsenio Hall Show / CBS Paramount
The Dick Cavett Show
Thames Television
The Walt Disney Company
Live with Regis and Kathie Lee /
Disney /ABC Domestic Television
The Rosie O’Donnell Show / Warner Brothers
Captain Kangaroo & Right Thing To Do
The Great Space Coaster

Photos Courtesy of
The Jim Henson Company
Sesame Workshop
The Walt Disney Company
Kevin Clash
Richard Termine
Robert Fuhring
Nancy Moran
Bill Pierce
Gary Miller
Joe Rosen
Anita and Steve Shevett
Children’s Television Workshop

“Les Z’Animaux”
Written by Mako Marchant and Alexandra Pic
Arranged by Paul Crabbe
Courtesy of Panorama SAS/Society Expand Drama

“Sesame Street Theme”
Music by Joe Raposo
Lyrics by Joe Raposo, Jon Stone, and Bruce Hart
© 1970 Children’s Television Workshop
© Renewed 1998 Sesame Street Inc and Stage Harbor Publishing, Inc.
Used by permission of EMI April Music Inc.

“Just One Person”
Written by Hal Hackady and Larry Grossman

“Puppet Man”
Written by Mark Radice
Courtesy of Radisongs

Special Thanks
Dan Braun
Josh Braun
Michael Donaldson
Cheryl Henson
The Jim Henson Legacy
David Koh
Ron Kreidman Esq.
Ellen Lewis
Nancy Marks
Arthur Novell
Kimberly Sokol
Sherrie Westin
John Ziemann

In Memory of Edwin S. Marks and Maria

This program was produced by Constance Marks Productions, Inc,
which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2011, Constance Marks Productions, Inc.

All rights reserved.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Share with other audience members your impressions of the film, and the ways in which you made your childhood ambitions a reality.
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What did you want to be when you grew up? Share with other audience members your impressions of the film, and the ways in which you made your childhood ambitions a reality.