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. During his internship, Richard Hunt helped Rudman prepare an audition tape for Jim Henson, who hired him as a performer soon after he had started college. Henson encouraged Rudman to stay in college, but allowed him to work on Muppet projects on his vacations. 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, and started performing for Sesame Street in season 17.
On his first taping day, Rudman was intended to right-hand for Richard Hunt, but Hunt instead gave his parts to Rudman to perform. His first Sesame Street performances were two inserts: "The People in Your Neighborhood" playing an Anything Muppet dentist (First: Episode 2146), and "Scratch My Back" puppeteering Jill, an AM Monster, to a prerecorded song track. 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. Outside of Sesame Street, he also took over a few of Hunt's Muppet Show characters: Scooter and Janice starting in 2008, and Beaker as of 2017.
Rudman's prominence as a lead Muppet performer 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 (in fact, the second half of a Letter of the Day sketch from season 33 features Rudman's Cookie Monster in a scene with Oz's Super Grover; Oz played Cookie in the first half). 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").
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.
With his brother, Sesame Street writer Adam Rudman, he has produced Jack's Big Music Show, and the PBS Kids series Nature Cat for their Chicago-based company Spiffy Pictures. 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. Rudman's Spiffy Pictures is also credited with "Puppet Production" for the 2013 direct-to-DVD movie Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map, which Rudman co-produced and also puppeteered Scooby-Doo.
He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2004 for "Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series" for his work on Sesame Street as Baby Bear and Cookie Monster. He presented a Daytime Emmy in 2013, appearing at the event with Cookie.
- Muppets Characters: Scooter, Janice (2008-present); Wayne, Bobby Benson (2011, 2014); Miss Poogy
- Sesame Street: Baby Bear, Cookie Monster (2001-present), Two-Headed Monster (right head, 1998-present), Airplane, Andre, Athena, Audrey Pigeon, Beachball, Betty Bowl of Plastic Fruit, Mr. Bricklayer, Bud, Chicago the Lion, Cranky, D-tective Dave, Det. John Munch, Dr. Edwynn, Dr. Flippin, Granny Snuffle (1989), Dr. Johnson, Lavender Ed, One of the Four Grouches Named Moe, Davey Monkey, Dip the Cat (1992), Duane, Fearful, Flo Bear, Frankie, Freddy, Hammy Swinette, Humphrey, Lieutenant Tao, Log, The Man in Brown, Next Generation Science Officer, Norman, Patrick, Pipe Organ, Rudder Rabbit, School, Sidney, Spike, The Sub-Human Cannonball, Sully (1992-1999), Sonny Friendly (1992-2000), one of the String Beans, Tessie Twiddlebug, Tyrone, Umeko's friend, Velma Blank, Wolfy, the Martians
- I Love Liberty
- The Muppets Take Manhattan
- Little Muppet Monsters: Boo Monster
- Labyrinth: Goblins (puppetry only)
- The Tale of the Bunny Picnic: Snort, The Snail
- A Muppet Family Christmas: Miss Piggy's Photographer
- Sing-Along, Dance-Along, Do-Along: Farmer Lear
- Neat Stuff To Know & To Do: Danny, Dino Doc, Skipping Stones, Snake Charmer
- Wow, You're a Cartoonist!: Mookie
- Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting
- The Jim Henson Hour: "The Song of the Cloud Forest"
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Donatello (face)
- The Cosby Show: Sweetums, Boo Monster
- The Muppets at Walt Disney World
- Muppet*Vision 3D: Roy and Max
- The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson
- Sesame Street Home Video Visits the Firehouse: Mr. Monster
- The Muppet Christmas Carol: Old Joe (puppetry only), Peter Cratchit, The Swedish Chef, Wander McMooch, Beggar
- Dog City: Bowser, Bram, Colonel Claghound
- CityKids: Toya (puppetry only), Dread, Frankie Frank, Lieutenant; also Muppet Coordinator
- Billy Bunny's Animal Songs: Percival Bear, Gopher, Termite, Waiter Penguin, Frog
- Muppet Meeting Films: Big Head, Gimley, Jones, others
- A New Baby in My House: Courtier
- Sesame Street Stays Up Late
- Muppet Time: Milton
- Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree: Ned Mouse
- Muppet Sing-A-Long: It's Not Easy Being Green
- Muppets Tonight (episode 201)
- Elmocize: one of the Twister Sisters
- Aliens in the Family: Bobut
- Elmopalooza: Sparky
- The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland: Alarm Clock Bird, Caterpillar, Pestie, Collander Stenchman, Grouch Ice Cream Customer, various Grouches
- Play with Me Sesame
- Elmo's World: Happy Holidays: Orange Gold Caroler
- The Street We Live On
- A Magical Halloween Adventure: Pumpkin, Surprise Monster
- Happy Healthy Monsters
- Elmo's Christmas Countdown
- Studio DC: Almost Live
- Abby in Wonderland
- A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa: Luncheon Counter Monster
- The Muppets: Food in the "We Built This City" montage
- Lady Gaga & the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular
- Muppets Most Wanted: Gulag Rat, Baby, Thingy-Thing
- The Furchester Hotel: Cookie Monster, The Tea Time Monsters, Arthur, Mr. Smellsalot
- The Muppets 2015 Presentation Pilot: Scooter, Janice, Satay
- The Muppets: Scooter, Janice
- The Muppets Take the Bowl: Scooter, Janice, Beaker
- The Muppets Take the O2: Scooter, Janice, Beaker
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Shay, Art. "The Dean of the Digits." Chicago Tribune. June 14, 1992.
- ↑ "The People in Our Neighborhood" Facebook post
- ↑ David Rudman on The Joey and Amanda Podcast
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Gikow, Louise. Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street. p. 103
- ↑ Rudman, David The MuppetCast episode 41
- ↑ Sioux City Journal "Change is key to Sesame Street" by Bruce R. Miller, Nov 6, 2009
- ↑ David Rudman interview with BBC
- ↑ Personal communication with Bill Barretta by Anthony T.