Veteran ‘Sesame Street’ Actor David Smyrl Dead at 80

David Smyrl

It’s a sad day on Sesame Street.

Emmy-winning actor David Smyrl has died of lung cancer at the age of 80. If you grew up watching Sesame Street during the 90s then you’re sure to recognize Smyrl’s face as that of Mr. Handford, the retired firefighter who took over Mr. Hooper’s store.

Smyrl was born in 1935 and moved to California in the 70s to work on sitcom Benson. He took on the role of the kind singing-and-dancing store owner Mr. Handford from 1990 to 1998. During his career, Smyrl also appeared on The Cosby Show, Law & Order and The Preacher’s Wife, among other roles.

“He was funny,” David’s wife Cheryl Smyrl told the Associated Press. “I could say so many good things about him. He was loved by so many people. He was a mentor to a lot of children. He was a family man, loyal, true and faithful.”

The actor was diagnosed with with lung cancer in January, according to his wife, and lost his battle on Tuesday March 22 at Lankenau Medical Center outside Philadelphia. Funeral services are scheduled for Monday.

Hopefully knowing what a huge role Smyrl played in many, many children’s childhoods- including mine- during his time on Sesame Street brings his friends and family solace during this difficult time.

Photo Credit: Sesame Street