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Caroly Wilcox Mahna Mahna

Wilcox with Mahna Mahna.

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Wilcox working on Featherstone.

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Wilcox performing a couple for At the Dance.

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Wilcox with Kermit at the Jim Henson Legacy's Amphibian Alumni reunion event in December 2011.

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Caroly Wilcox (May 16, 1931 – January 9, 2021) began working in the New York Muppet Workshop in 1969, as work on Sesame Street began. Wilcox originally worked as an occasional puppeteer (assisting on Ernie and performing in such skits as "First and Last") as well as building and designing. According to Quilting with the Muppets, she also made occasional cameos as a bus driver.

Wilcox became the workshop supervisor for the Sesame Muppets, and remained in that post until her retirement in 1990. Her 1979 design sketch for a red monster would eventually become a star character as Elmo.[1] As with the other designers, not all of her ideas reached fruition: she conceived and drew "Snuffy's Baby Brother," to be operated by one smaller person and "having only two legs when young (tadpole like). Mature is 4."[2]

She was also a key designer/builder for The Muppet Show and movies, notably directing the creation of a special Miss Piggy puppet for use in the underwater scenes in The Great Muppet Caper.[3] In many cases, her task involved the practical side, adding annotations to help translate character sketches by Jim Henson into physical puppets, noting how a performer should operate a character, and even coordinating the options for shooting the parachute drop in Great Muppet Caper. Wilcox was viewed as the expert Muppet maker; she trained many of the Muppet builders.

She was interviewed in Behind the Scenes in Frogtown Hollow and a 2020 live-stream event for the Museum of the Moving Image. (YouTube) Jane Gootnick shared her memories of Wilcox the day after her passing on The Barretta Brothers vodcast. (YouTube)

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