Elmo Left Behind on 'Sesame Street' as Actor Exits

This Jan. 24, 2011 photo shows "Sesame Street" muppet Elmo and puppeteer Kevin Clash posing for a portrait in the Fender Music Lodge during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival to promote the film "Being Elmo" in Park City, Utah.
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Despite his resignation, Clash will remain an integral part of "Sesame Street" for the foreseeable future. Taping of season No. 44 will wrap by mid-December and will begin airing next September, according to someone close to the show who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to publicly discuss details of its production. That means new episodes with Clash performing as Elmo will presumably continue well into 2014.

As for who might take over as Elmo, other "Sesame Street" puppeteers were already being trained to serve as Clash's stand-in, Sesame Workshop said. It's part of an understudy policy being adopted for all the major Muppet characters.

But no one knows how Elmo will fare going forward. Will the jokes spurred by Clash's downfall leave a lasting mark on Elmo's image? Will there be parents who see him tainted by association with the man who brought him to life?

In the wake of a personal tragedy that may still be unfolding, Elmo's innocence, positiveness and sweetness will be put to the test.

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AP Television Writer David Bauder and AP Retail Writer Mae Anderson contributed to this report.

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