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Sesame Street actor David Smyrl dies at 80

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Sesame Street

Actor David Smyrl died on Tuesday at the age of 80, the Associated Press confirms. Smyrl was best-known for playing Mr. Handford, the retired firefighter who ran Hooper’s Store on Sesame Street. He took over the role from Leonard Jackson in 1990 and played it through 1998.

Smyrl’s wife Cheryl told the AP that “he was a mentor to a lot of children,” and Smyrl himself once told a Connecticut newspaper that Sesame Street was fun because “you get to act stupid. I get to do fun things like dance with Gloria Estefan.”

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Smyrl was born in Philadelphia in 1935. He began his TV career in the 1970s on the program Express Yourself. He met his wife in 1975, though they didn’t marry until 1992. Smyrl won a People’s Choice Award for his work on the sitcom Benson and later played contractor Sam Lucas on The Cosby Show. He is survived by wife Cheryl and stepson Pancho Scott.