Though I've put my two cents about who performed her quite some time ago (as practically everyone else has), I thought I'd post some of Bob Payne's work in order to compare to the voice and performance of Astoria. I couldn't find enough Astoria clips, but here are the examples of Payne's contributions onscreen on Sesame Street:
Some time ago, in the recesses of my own mind, I developed a theory that it was Jerry Juhl, doing a one-off as a special thing. One of the voices in Alexander the Grape did it for me. I was going to put together a reel and share it about, including some Henson people, but (like a million other things) I never got around to it.
That said, it probably wasn't as compelling as Shane's clip, which is probably the best comparison I've heard yet.
And just another thank you for your, Shane, and Guille's work on those SS guides. It's amazing how the guides have branched out on a show with episodes that haven't aired in 50 years!! If I were able to use the computers as much as I used to, I'd've been there alongside to help! But at least I can help with the clips whenever I can.
I guess something else to ask would be about his brief experience filling in for Jim Henson on Sam and Friends, maybe if he remembers anything he did at that time, if he did any voices then. I wonder if any of his Sam and Friends performances survive.
Some basic pre-performing background/biographical info (born where, when, any favorite memories) since usually the only thing that comes up is "friend [our page says college, but other sources and a yearbook say high school] of Jim Henson." So clearing that one up too, when did they get to know each other.
As much as I would love to dedicate my living to full time researcher, I'm afraid I've just been too busy to reach out to Bob Payne.
However, if Shane's audio comparison above didn't sell him as Astoria's performer, I think the recent uncovering of audiovisual material for Bertha (confirmed in the script for Episode 1207 as Payne) should put the final nail in the coffin.
Given all the evidence, I'm ready to throw down with Bob Payne as Astoria's performer.