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

Rudman assists Richard Hunt in performing Leo the Party Monster.

Rudman performs Cookie Monster at a graduation ceremony.

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

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.

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, and 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. By 2008, he officially took over some of Hunt's Muppet Show characters, including Scooter and Janice (later assuming the role of Beaker as well in 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[8] (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 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.

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.


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