|PERFORMER||Jerry Nelson 1972-2012|
|Matt Vogel 2013-present|
|PATTERN||Large Lavender Live Hand|
|DESIGN||Jim Henson and Caroly Wilcox designer|
|Caroly Wilcox builder|
Count von Count is a mysterious but friendly vampire-like Muppet on Sesame Street who is meant to parody Bela Lugosi's portrayal of Count Dracula. He first appeared on the show in the Season 4 premiere in 1972, counting blocks in a sketch with Bert and Ernie.
The Count has a compulsive love of counting (arithmomania, an affliction of legendary vampires); he will count anything and everything, regardless of size, amount, or how much annoyance he causes others around him. In one song, he stated that he sometimes even counts himself. When he finishes counting, The Count laughs and announces his total (which sometimes appears on screen). This finale is usually accompanied by a crash of thunder and a flash of lightning, even on sunny days. (According to The Sesame Street Bedtime Storybook, the Count has a personal cloud that hovers over his head and provides the thunder and lightning.)
The Count lives in an old, cobweb-infested castle that he shares with many bats. Sometimes he counts them. Some of the pet bats are named, including Grisha, Misha, Sasha, and Tattiana. He also has a cat, Fatatita, a wolf named Yuba, and an octopus named Octavia. He also plays a large pipe organ, and in some illustrations he is seen playing the violin. From seasons 33 through 37, the Count appeared regularly to announce the Number of the Day, often playing notes on his organ to count up to the featured number.
The Count has occasionally been seen in the romantic company of the Countess, while also wooing such women as Lady Two and Susan Sarandon. He has a fifth cousin named Countess Dahling von Dahling who can make it rain when she counts. His grandparents have appeared on the show, as have his brother and mother in non-speaking bits. He also has an Uncle Uno.
The Count's profile on Sesame Workshop's website does not use the word vampire but does suggest that he may be a distant relative of Count Dracula. However, the book Sesame Street Unpaved describes the Count as a "Numerical Vampire." In contrast, the 2001 Sesame Street Muppets Drawing Guide insists "The Count is not a vampire."
Nevertheless, the Count resembles Bela Lugosi's portrayal of Dracula in voice (speaking in an Eastern European accent and pronouncing his Vs as Ws), appearance, and sometimes mannerisms. For example, in early sketches, the Count waves his hands to exercise hypnotic power over other Muppets and holds his cape over the lower part of his face while moving. In addition, an early skit revealed that the Count shows no reflection in a mirror. Unlike vampires as traditionally depicted in legend and motion pictures, however, the Count often relaxes in the sunlight (as seen in "Counting Vacation" and "Coconut Counting Man," among others).
“Norman told me he was writing this piece with this new character who's called the Count... He's a vampire, but not a real vampire... He just has a jones for numbers. He's obsessed with counting things. So I went, "Oh, cool," and I went to Jim [Henson] and said, "You know, Norman's writing this new character called the Count." Jim said, "Let me hear it." So I went (in my Count voice), "Yes, I vould love to do it!" and Jim said, "Yes, you can do it."”
The Count is now a friendly, non-threatening figure on the Street, but his early appearances in 1972 had a more sinister edge. He had hypnotic powers, and was able to stun other Muppets by waving his hands. After counting, he uttered a villainous laugh as lightning flashed in moody colors. He was often accompanied by creepy organ music. As the character matured, the sinister aspect of his personality was toned down, and his laugh became a throaty, Lugosi-style chuckle.
He made cameo appearances in The Muppet Movie (in the finale) and The Muppets Take Manhattan (in the wedding), and has also been featured in the Sesame Street movies Follow That Bird and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. He also appeared in The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years and A Muppet Family Christmas.
- The Count's car is the Countmobile. His New York license plate number is "12345678910" in the movie Follow That Bird. However, in Count All the Way to Sesame Street, a book based on Follow that Bird, the Count's license plate number is simply "123."
- The Count was a DJ for his own radio station on the album The Count's Countdown, and hosted a music video show in Count It Higher: Great Music Videos from Sesame Street.
- In a Number of the Day segment for 0, The Count stated: "Oh hello, it is I, The Count. I'm called the Count because I love to count. Err, that, and I inherited my father's royal title." Despite this claim, the title of Count is one of nobility rather than royalty. Thus, the Count's claim to royalty might rest on his having inherited a lesser title of a royal ancestor.
- According to the book Sesame Street Unpaved, after Jon Stone read the first script of a Count skit, he sent it back to the writer, Norman Stiles, with a note scribbled atop: "Good character, bad bit". In a 2014 interview with the Archive of American Television, Norman Stiles mentioned he couldn't remember what the skit was about, other than it involved hot dogs. A Waiter Grover skit has the Count ordering hot dogs, but it is unknown if this was the sketch Stiles was referring to.
- In Count it Higher: Great Music Videos from Sesame Street, The Count says that his favorite song is "Count it Higher". However, the book Sesame Street Unpaved states that his favorite songs are "Born to Add" and "Count on Me." Sesame Workshop's "Muppetbook" page also includes the song "99 Red Balloons."
- According to the 1998 book Sesame Street Unpaved, the Count is "written to represent an adult with the psychological age of someone who is 1,832,652 years old -- and still counting." Although, in a 2017 video for Wired, the Count says he's six-million-five-hundred-twenty-three-thousand-seven-hundred-twenty-eight years old, next October.
- According to Sesame Street Stays Up Late, the Count knows the exact time, and therefore knows when the new year arrives.
- In Episode 4109, the Count states that he used to be a professor of counting from one to ten at the Institute of Technology at Moldavia.
- For scenes involving Chroma key (such as "Adventure"), the Count often sports a purple cape instead of his usual green one. He has been seen wearing it on the normal studio set on other occasions, including Episode 4109 and "Five By."
- In Jerry Nelson's later years, Matt Vogel took over the puppetry of the Count while Nelson continued to provide the voice. This lasted until Nelson's death in 2012; Vogel debuted with his first vocal performance of the character in the 2013 video "Counting the "You"s in YouTube."
Video game appearances
- Sesame Street Countdown
- Get Set to Learn!
- Search and Learn Adventures
- Elmo's Number Journey
- Count TV iPhone app
- Elmo's Musical Monsterpiece
- Kinect Sesame Street TV
- Books starring Count von Count
- The Sesame Street 1, 2, 3 Storybook (1973)
- The Sesame Street ABC Storybook (1974)
- The Sesame Street Book of Fairy Tales (1975)
- Big Bird's Busy Book (1975)
- See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Smell No Evil (1975)
- Bert's Big Band Paint-with-Water Book (1976)
- The Sesame Street Postcard Book (1976)
- Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree (1977)
- The Sesame Street Block Party Coloring Book (1977)
- Sesame Street Goes West (1977)
- The Sesame Street Mystery Coloring Book (1977)
- Who's Who on Sesame Street (1977)
- The Sesame Street Bedtime Storybook (1978)
- The Exciting Adventures of Super Grover (1978)
- A Day on Sesame Street (1979)
- Down on the Farm with Grover (1980)
- Early Bird on Sesame Street (1980)
- Look What I Found! (1980)
- Molly Moves to Sesame Street (1980)
- The Sesame Street Dictionary (1980)
- The Sesame Street Pet Show (1980)
- Special Delivery (1980)
- The Tool Box Book (1980)
- What Did You Bring? (1980)
- Oscar's Rotten Birthday (1981)
- Prairie Dawn's Upside-Down Poem (1981)
- The Sesame Street Circus of Opposites (1981)
- The Sesame Street Sun (1981)
- What Do You Do? (1981)
- City (1982)
- A Day at School (1982)
- Sesame Street Finding Out Encyclopedia 1: The A Book (1982)
- Sesame Street Finding Out Encyclopedia 2: The B Book (1982)
- Sesame Street Finding Out Encyclopedia 3: The C Book (1982)
- Sesame Street Finding Out Encyclopedia 4: The D Book (1982)
- Sesame Street Finding Out Encyclopedia 5: The EF Book (1982)
- Sesame Street Finding Out Encyclopedia 6: The GH Book (1982)
- Sesame Street Finding Out Encyclopedia 7: The IJKL Book (1982)
- Sesame Street Finding Out Encyclopedia 8: The M Book (1982)
- Sesame Street Finding Out Encyclopedia 9: The NO Book (1982)
- Sesame Street Finding Out Encyclopedia 10: The PQ Book (1982)
- Sesame Street Finding Out Encyclopedia 11: The R Book (1982)
- Sesame Street Finding Out Encyclopedia 12: The S Book (1982)
- Sesame Street Finding Out Encyclopedia 13: The T Book (1982)
- Sesame Street Finding Out Encyclopedia 14: The UV Book (1982)
- Sesame Street Finding Out Encyclopedia 15: The WXYZ Book (1982)
- A Sesame Street Christmas (1982)
- The Little Red Hen (1983)
- There's No Place Like Home (1983)
- Big Bird's Copycat Day (1984)
- Big Bird Brings Spring to Sesame Street (1985)
- Big Bird's Book of Rhymes (1985)
- Ernie's Finish the Picture (1985)
- Count All the Way to Sesame Street (1985)
- Follow That Bird Activity Book (1985)
- Follow That Bird coloring book (1985)
- Grover's Book of Colors (1985)
- I Can Count to Ten and Back Again (1985)
- Sign Language ABC (1985)
- The House of Seven Colors (1985)
- Count to Ten (1986)
- Find the Shapes (1986)
- Through the Year (1986)
- Colors (1987)
- Ernie's Neighborhood (1987)
- A Rainy Day on Sesame Street (1987)
- The Day Snuffy Had the Sniffles (1988)
- A New Playground on Sesame Street (1988)
- A My Name Is Alice (1989)
- Come As You Are (1989)
- I Can't Wait Until Christmas (1989)
- Grover's Bad Dream (1990)
- Museum of Monster Art (1990)
- Big Bird Plays the Violin (1991)
- Halloween Party (1991)
- Sleep Tight! (1991)
- What's in Oscar's Trash Can? and Other Good-Night Stories (1991)
- Grover's 10 Terrific Ways to Help Our Wonderful World (1992)
- We're Different, We're the Same (1992)
- Sesame Street's Mother Goose Rhymes (1993)
- Big Bird Meets the Orchestra (1993)
- Around the Corner on Sesame Street (1994)
- Elmo's Big Lift-and-Look Book (1994)
- Sesame Street Stays Up Late (1995)
- B is for Books! (1996)
- Rise and Shine! (1996; reworked as Up, Up, Up! in 2011)
- Christmas Songs (1997)
- Elmo Loves You (1997)
- Pumpkin Patch Party (1997)
- Slimey in Space (1998)
- Where Is Elmo's Blanket? (1999)
- Elmo's ABC Book (2000)
- Clap Your Hands! (2002)
- Look and Find Elmo (2002)
- Elmo Pops In! (2003)
- Brought to You by... Sesame Street! (2004)
- Boo! (2005)
- Elmo's Easy As ABC (2005)
- Elmo's Delicious Christmas (2005)
- Red or Blue, I Like You! (2005)
- Know Your Numbers (2006)
- Learn About Counting with the Count (2006)
- Elmo Visits the Dentist (2007)
- Elmo's Favorite Places (2007)
- Elmo's World Super Sticker Book (2007)
- Friendly, Frosty Monsters (2007)
- Let's Match (2007)
- Music Player Storybook (2007)
- Storybook ABCs (2008)
- Count to 10 (2009)
- Love, Elmo (2009)
- Healthy Monster Triathlon (2010)
- Murray's First Book of Words (2010)
- Over on Sesame Street (2012)
- Count von Count Sketches
- Count von Count filmography
- International Count von Count
- Is the Count on Sesame Street a vampire?
- Count von Count's family
- Count von Count's capes
- Geiss, Tony "Who Stole the Count's Thunder?"
- Sesame Workshop profile. Accessed November 19, 2009.
- Borgenicht, David Sesame Street Unpaved; New York, NY: Hyperion, 1998, pp. 56–58.
- Stevenson, Nancy W. (illustrator) Sesame Street Muppets Drawing Guide; Sesame Workshop: New York, NY, 2001, p. 9.
- See, for example, Sesame Street Episode 0406.
- "Still Counting: An Interview with Muppeteer Jerry Nelson" by Kenneth Plume, Muppet Central. March 1, 1999. Accessed November 19, 2009.
- Norman Stiles interview, video interview for the Archive of American Television, conducted on December 12, 2014.
- ToughPigs: A Chat with Jerry Nelson, part 1