On rare occasions, Sesame Street cannot chase the clouds away. In 1982, shopkeeper Mr. Hooper’s death darkened Jim Henson’s village. The episode is heralded for its deft handling of grief. The next shopkeeper gave the audience another reason to mourn.
In the show, Mr. Hooper’s store responsibilities were handed over to Northern Calloway’s David. As a beloved mainstay of the show, Calloway earned a lot of good will over his eighteen year tenure. In exchange, Sesame Street tolerated his escalating chaotic behavior.
In the early 1980’s, Calloway rampaged through the streets of Nashville. The pantsless entertainer bashed in car windows with an iron rod. In 1989, Calloway’s mental deterioration was evident. Executives fired him after biting music director Danny Epstein’s ear. The final straw was harassing teenage actress Alison Bartlett. As a result, he was sent to Stony Lodge Psychiatric Hospital. While resisting his caretakers’ restraints, Calloway had a seizure. The subsequent cardiac arrest killed the 41-year-old actor.