90°F
weather icon Clear
TV

Mr. Handford of ‘Sesame Street’ dies at 80

LOS ANGELES — Actor David Smyrl, best known for his role as Mr. Handford on “Sesame Street,” died on Tuesday near Philadelphia after battling lung cancer. He was 80.

Smyrl was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the year, his wife, Cheryl, told the Associated Press.

“He was loved by so many people,” Cheryl Smyrl told the AP. “He was a mentor to a lot of children. He was a family man, loyal, true and faithful.”

Smyrl portrayed Handford — the cheerful, retired firefighter who ran Hooper’s Store on Sesame Street — from 1990 to 1998, taking over the role from Leonard Jackson, who had a much grumpier take on the beloved character.

“You get to act stupid,” Smyrl told the Connecticut newspaper the Record-Journal about what drew him to the role. “It’s fun! I get to do fun things like dance with Gloria Estefan.”

Born in north Philadelphia in 1935, he began his television career in the 1970s on the show “Express Yourself.” He also worked as a writer and played contractor Sam Lucas on “The Cosby Show.”

Smyrl won a People’s Choice Award for his work on the ’70s sitcom sitcom “Benson.”

In addition to his wife, he’s also survived by his stepson, Pancho Scott. Smyrl’s funeral will be held on Monday.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
BET Awards show pays tribute to Nipsey Hussle, other stars

The 2019 BET Awards featured a number of contemporary pop and rap stars who are dominating the charts, from Cardi B to Lil Nas X. But the show belonged to artists viewed as icons in the black community, including singer Mary J. Blige, filmmaker Tyler Perry and the late rapper Nipsey Hussle.

Wallendas safely cross Times Square on high wire

Two siblings from the famed Flying Wallendas safely crossed Times Square on a high wire strung between two skyscrapers 25 stories above the pavement.

Mindy Kaling dishes on diversity, discipline and motherhood

With new film “Late Night,” a new, 10-episode series and a daughter, Mindy Kaling revels in her many roles: actress, writer, producer and mother.