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Rudman with two of his Sesame Street characters - Baby Bear and Cookie Monster

David Rudman

Rudman assists Richard Hunt in performing Leo the Party Monster.

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Rudman with Cookie Monster at Sesame Street Day ceremony.

David Rudman (b. June 1, 1963)[1][2] is a core Muppet performer who on Sesame Street plays Baby Bear, Davey Monkey, Chicago the Lion, Humphrey, and assumed the role of Cookie Monster in 2001. For The Muppets Studio, he performs Scooter, Janice, and Beaker, characters that were originated by Richard Hunt on The Muppet Show.

Early career[]

Rudman graduated from Highland Park High School in Chicago in 1981 and began working for the Muppets that summer, interning as a builder in the Muppet Workshop. His assignments included building Oscar the Grouch for Sesame Street Live and photo puppets for Muppet displays.[3] At the end of Rudman's internship, Richard Hunt helped him in preparing an audition tape for Jim Henson. Rudman used the red monster puppet that would later be established as Elmo for his audition, lip-syncing to "I Can Do That" from A Chorus Line. A few weeks into Rudman's college freshman year, Henson saw his audition tape and hired him as a performer. While Henson advised Rudman to stay in college, he was allowed to work on Muppet projects on his vacations.[1][4][5]

After graduating from the University of Connecticut in 1985, Rudman was cast as Boo Monster, one of the lead characters on the short-lived Little Muppet Monsters.

Sesame Street[]

Rudman started performing for Sesame Street in season 17. On his first day, Rudman was intended to right-hand for Richard Hunt, but Hunt instead gave his primary performing duties to Rudman. His first Sesame Street segments, taped on November 7, 1985,[6] were "The People in Your Neighborhood" playing an Anything Muppet dentist, and "Scratch My Back" puppeteering Jill, an AM Monster, to a prerecorded song track.[5][7] After Hunt's passing in 1992, Rudman assumed the roles of Sonny Friendly, Sully, and the right (horns up) half of the Two-Headed Monster.

In addition to his work as a Muppeteer on Sesame Street, Rudman has also provided voice-acting for the show, notably as Baby Bear's animated sidekick Hero Guy, as well as in several animated segments. Many Sesame Street cartoons featuring his voicework also include other Muppet performers, such as Joey Mazzarino.

Rudman has received multiple Daytime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series for his work on Sesame Street: 2004, 2010, 2013, and 2014.

Assuming the role of Cookie Monster[]

Rudman's prominence as a lead Muppet performer on Sesame Street was on the rise during the years in which Frank Oz was increasingly unable to commit time to puppeteering. As some of Oz's characters were recast with understudies, Rudman auditioned for the role of Cookie Monster, and was ultimately selected for the job. "Frank decided who he wanted to do it," Rudman told the press while promoting the show's 40th anniversary[8].

Rudman's first performances as Cookie Monster appear in season 32 including Episode 3943 ("One of These Things"), Episode 3950 ("Zero" sketch), Episode 3962 (street plot), and Episode 3968 ("Me Draw Cookie"). He previously recorded an insert for season 31 that went unaired on the domestic Sesame Street.

David Rudman talked about Frank Oz passing the torch to him while filming a Letter of the Day sketch in season 33 that features Rudman's Cookie Monster in a scene with Oz's Super Grover:

β€œI started doing Cookie in right around 2000, and Frank and I shared it for a few years so when Frank would come in he would still play Cookie and then when he was gone I would do it. So there was one bit where they wrote this bit that Cookie and Grover were in together.

So Frank was there, so I figured Frank will do Cookie and someone else would work Grover maybe and he would just loop the voice in later. And it was a two-part segment, the first round was just Cookie and then it will cut away to something and it came back and it was Cookie and Grover. So Frank said, "When we come back for the second part, you do Cookie and I'll do Grover," and I go, "Well, you did him in the first part." He goes, "Yeah, but you could do it for the second part." I go, "But it's gonna be right one after another, don't you wanna just, I'll do it but you loop it because...?" "No, no, it'll be fine." So the bit starts with Frank doing the letter of the day and then it cuts away to something and it comes back and now I'm doing Cookie and talking to him doing Grover. And after that Frank never did Cookie again.

That was like the last time he did it, and I don't know if it was a conscious thing but in my mind it was him handing it off to me. I don't know if that was conscious or not, but in my mind that was sort of him saying, you can do this, you can carry this forward. Because I don't think he ever did Cookie after that.[9]”

The Muppets[]

David Rudman - Muppets

Rudman with Scooter

In addition to his role in Little Muppet Monsters, Rudman worked as an additional Muppet performer on several projects in the 1980s and early '90s, including The Muppets Take Manhattan, A Muppet Family Christmas, The Muppets at Walt Disney World, Muppet*Vision 3D, The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson along with some home video titles, several Muppet Meeting Films shorts and the Muppet Time interstitials. He played the role of Peter Cratchit and others in the 1992 film The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Rudman drifted away from performing with the classic Muppet characters in the mid-1990s when most of their productions moved to Los Angeles, and he stayed based in New York to work on Sesame Street and other projects.

Rudman says that Steve Whitmire was the one to push for him taking on Richard Hunt's characters within the classic Muppets:

β€œHe called me, he actually called me, and said, "Why aren't you doing this?" and I go, "I don't know, it's not up to me." "You should be doing Richard's characters, you had a really great relationship with him, you know the characters." And I'm like, "I'll do it if they ask, of course I'll do it." So then all of a sudden, things started happening.[10]”

Shortly after, in 2008, The Muppets Studio held a meeting with Rudman along with Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, Matt Vogel, Marty Robinson and Debbie McClellan to discuss Rudman taking on Hunt's characters and Vogel taking on Nelson's.[11]

In 2008, he officially took over some of Richard Hunt's Muppet Show characters, including Scooter and Janice (and later assuming the role of Beaker following Steve Whitmire's departure from the troupe). His first performance of Janice was in Studio DC Hosted by Dylan and Cole Sprouse and his Scooter debuted in Studio DC Hosted by Selena Gomez (both in 2008). He debuted as Beaker in The Muppets Take the Bowl in 2017.

Rudman spoke about performing Hunt's characters saying:

β€œI love playing Scooter especially. I do play it a little different than Richard and I think he would be okay with that because you can't, I mean, it's hard to, like, do an exact copy because I'm not Richard. I can't do what he did because that was him. So it's tricky because it's bringing a little bit of yourself but also keep a little bit of the essence of what was there before. I love playing these characters. I think about him all the time, but especially when I put Scooter on, the first thought in my mind is thinking of Richard. And so I'm honored that I get to take those characters and keep playing with them.[12]”

Rudman has performed Scooter and Janice in featured roles in the films The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted and the series The Muppets, Muppets Now and The Muppets Mayhem.

Creature Shop[]


Rudman on the set of Labyrinth

He performed Goblins in Labyrinth and puppeteered on the Henson series Dinosaurs. He was also the facial puppeteer for Donatello in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Rudman performed Bobut (both puppetry and voice), the alien baby on Aliens in the Family.

Other Work[]


Rudman with the puppet cast of his non-Henson television show Bunnytown.

With the Jim Henson Company, Rudman worked on The Tale of the Bunny Picnic, The Ghost of Faffner Hall, Dog City, CityKids, Billy Bunny's Animal Songs and Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree.

With his brother, Sesame Street writer Adam Rudman, he founded the Illinois-based production company Spiffy Pictures, which has produced the children's series Jack's Big Music Show, Nature Cat, and Donkey Hodie (co-produced with Fred Rogers Productions). He has also written and directed live-action films and cartoons for Sesame Street, MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. Rudman's work in television commercials include ads for Coke, McDonald's, Cheerios, Disney World, the National Wildlife Federation and most notably as Fingerman for a series of Ziploc bag commercials. Spiffy Pictures is also credited with "Puppet Production" for the 2013 direct-to-DVD movie Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map, for which Rudman was a producer and also puppeteered Scooby-Doo.


for a complete character gallery, see David Rudman characters

Director credits[]


  1. ↑ 1.0 1.1 Shay, Art. "The Dean of the Digits." Chicago Tribune. June 14, 1992.
  2. ↑ "The People in Our Neighborhood" Facebook post
  3. ↑ The Barretta Brothers: Two of Us Show #27 (00:12:19)
  4. ↑ David Rudman on The Joey and Amanda Podcast
  5. ↑ 5.0 5.1 Gikow, Louise. Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street. p. 103
  6. ↑ Documents provided by trusted source
  7. ↑ Rudman, David The MuppetCast episode 41
  8. ↑ Sioux City Journal "Change is key to Sesame Street" by Bruce R. Miller, Nov 6, 2009
  9. ↑ The Barretta Brothers Episode #27 (0:44:10)
  10. ↑ Below the Frame Episode 29 (55:17)
  11. ↑ Below the Frame Episode 29 (53:59)
  12. ↑ Below the Frame Episode 29 (56:38)
  13. ↑ David Rudman interview with BBC
  14. ↑ Personal communication with Bill Barretta by Anthony T.

External links[]