Last Updated: May 7, 2024
Richest Celebrities
Net Worth:
$1.5 Million
Sep 17, 1960 (63 years old)
6 ft (1.83 m)
Television producer, Television Director, Film director, Film Producer, Voice Actor, Puppeteer, Actor, Comedian, Performer
United States of America
💰 Compare Kevin Clash's Net Worth

What is Kevin Clash's net worth and salary?

Kevin Clash is a voice actor, puppeteer and co-executive producer who has a net worth of $1.5 million. Kevin Clash began his career in the early 1980s, performing in various local television shows and working with his own puppets. In 1984, he joined the cast of Sesame Street and began performing as Elmo, a furry red monster who quickly became one of the show's most beloved characters. Clash did not create Elmo. Elmo was created in 1979 by a Muppet artist named Caroly Wilcox. However, the kind and loving version of Elmo with the squeaky voice we all know today was indeed conceived by Kevin.

Throughout his career with Sesame Street, Clash also performed other characters, such as Hoots the Owl and Baby Natasha. He worked on several Muppet productions, including The Jim Henson Hour, Muppet Treasure Island, and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. Clash's portrayal of Elmo earned him widespread recognition, and he received several accolades, including multiple Daytime Emmy Awards.

In addition to his work as a performer, Clash also served as a puppet captain, directing and training other puppeteers. He played a crucial role in the development of Elmo's character and contributed significantly to the success of Sesame Street.

Who Owns Elmo?

Before his death in 1990, Jim Henson was placing the final touches on a deal to sell his production studio and the rights to all non-Sesame Street muppets to Disney for $150 million upfront, plus tens of millions more in the form of ongoing production fees and salary for Henson. After his death, Jim's five children could not agree on the previous sale terms so they opted not to sell at that time. In 2000, the family sold the company to a German media conglomerate for $680 million. That company went bankrupt a year later and in 2003 the family re-acquired their former company for $83 million. In that year of ownership under the German conglomerate, the rights to all the Sesame Street characters were sold to the to Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that produces several Sesame Street-related productions.

So, long story short, today Elmo and all the other Sesame Street characters are owned by the Sesame Street nonprofit. In a typical recent year, that nonprofit has earned $250+ million in revenue and around $20 million in profits. As a nonprofit, all those "profits" go to fund a variety of public value educational programs.


What was Kevin Clash's salary for voicing Elmo?

Kevin Clash's exact Elmo salary was not known but most of the big name Sesame Street actors earn between $300,000 and $500,000 per year. According to their 2011 tax releases, Sesame Street paid Caroll Spinney, the actor who played Big Bird, $314,072. Clash was not listed on the same tax release but as an executive producer he was paid a handsome cut of the profits that Elmo made each year in addition to his base salary. That included merchandise and DVD sales.

(Photo by Chris Polk/DE/Getty Images for ATI)

Early Life

Kevin Clash was born in Turner's Station, Baltimore County, Maryland on September 17, 1960. He is one of four children to George Clash, a flash welder, and Gladys Clash, a daycare owner. Inspired by television shows of the era, Clash developed a fascination with puppetry at a young age.

At age 10, Clash made his first puppet, his own version of Mickey Mouse. He later made a monkey puppet out of the lining of his father's coat. He began performing for his mother's daycare pupils, which she ran out of their home. Clash had built nearly 100 puppets by the time he was a teenager. He also performed at venues around Baltimore such as schools, churches, community events and fundraisers.

Early Career

Clash, while performing at a neighborhood festival, was discovered by Baltimore TV personality Stu Kerr at age 16. Kerr became Clash's mentor and hired him to perform in the Channel 2 show "Caboose." Clash also began building puppets for "Romper Room" around this time. At age 17, he met puppeteer Kermit Love, who recommended that Clash appear as Cookie Monster in the Sesame Street float during the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade. This is where Clash met Jim Henson, who later became his mentor, boss, and close friend. W

hen Clash was 19, he became a puppeteer for Captain Kangaroo. In 1984, Kevin had to turn down Henson's offer to work with him on "The Dark Crystal" because he was already working for two TV shows at the same time–Captain Kangaroo and "The Great Space Coaster." On the latter, Kevin was working as a producer for the first time.

After Captain Kangaroo was canceled in 1984 and Great Space Coaster ended, Clash was freed up to work with Henson on projects such as the hit film "Labyrinth" and "Sesame Street." Clash began work on "Sesame Street" with early characters such as Hoots the Owl, Baby Natassha, and Dr. Nobel Price.

Kevin Clash Net Worth and Salary

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images


Elmo was originally conceived in 1979 by Henson Muppet artist Caroly Wilcox. Elmo made his first television appearance in 1980, in a season 11 episode (#1439) segment titled "We Are All Monsters." Here is a video of that original appearance:

Three puppeteers performed Elmo prior to Clash taking on the role in. Elmo was performed by Richard Hunt from 1984 to 1985. According to legend, Hunt was so frustrated by performing Elmo that one day he threw it Kevin Clash who then became the primary performer. It was Kevin's idea to re-jigger Elmo's personality into a kind and loving character. Fellow puppeteer Frank Oz had bestowed some advice upon Clash that he took to heart, to always "find one special hook" for a character. Clash decided that Elmo's special characteristic should be that he "represents love." Clash based much of Elmo's character on the preschool children that attended his mother's preschool.

The re-branded Elmo we all know today debuted on November 18, 1985 in the season 17 premiere (episode #2096). He quickly became a beloved character both behind the scenes and with audiences worldwide.

The height of Elmo's ever-increasing popularity came with the "Tickle Me Elmo" crazy in 1996. Clash's responsibilities on the show then increased and he was soon recruiting, auditioning, and training the show's puppeteers. He became the senior Muppet coordinator, writer, director, and co-producer of the Elmo's World segment of "Sesame Street." Clash also worked on the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" films, "The Jim Henson Hour," "Muppets from Space," "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz," "Muppets Tonight," and continued to perform puppetry for many other characters on "Sesame Street"  In 2007, Clash was promoted to Senior Creative Adviser for the Sesame Workshop. Up until 2011, Clash was the only performer who portrayed Elmo. In 2011, he was featured in the 2011 documentary "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey."

After a hiatus of several years due to sexual abuse allegations (more on that below,) Clash returned to puppeteering with the film "The Happytime Murders" in 2018, directed by Brian Henson, Jim Henson's son. In 2019, Clash performed in the 2019 Netflix series "The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance," a prequel to the Henson film from 1982 "The Dark Crystal."

Abuse Allegations

In 2012, 23-year-old Sheldon Stephens alleged that he had been in a sexual relationship with Clash that started when Stephens was a minor. Clash acknowledged the relationship but claimed it was between consenting adults. Another accuser, Cecil Singleton, made similar accusations two weeks later. Lawsuits were filed against Clash and he resigned from Sesame Workshop in November 2012. Sesame Workshop also released the following statement:

"Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin's personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from 'Sesame Street'."

Two other accusers later came forward with similar accusations.

The cases against Clash were dismissed in July 2013 due to the statute of limitations since the claims were made more than six years after the accusers "should have become aware of Clash's alleged violations." In April 2014, the decision to dismiss the three lawsuits was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals

Personal Life & Real Estate

Clash was married for 17 years to Genia Clash. The two got divorced in 2003. Clash publicly revealed his homosexuality in response to the allegations of sexual abuse in November 2012. He stated: "I am a gay man. I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter." Clash has a daughter, Shannon, who was born in 1993.

In June 2015, Kevin sold his Manhattan apartment for $1.09 million and moved to Los Angeles. Today he resides in Atlanta.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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