Elmo Puppeteer Kevin Clash Talks About Early Struggles, Making Amends With Daughter

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It's Not So Easy Being Elmo

After spending a career entertaining the world's children, perhaps Clash's only regret was ignoring his own daughter, who, after his divorce, told her father she was feeling neglected.

"A child can do that in a second -- bring you right back down -- and she did and we're the better for it," Clash said.

Yet, the hours are still long. In addition to being Elmo, Clash is now a TV executive. When Clash is performing in front of a group of children, they seem to look past the 51-year-old man and just see Elmo, who greets nearly every child.

"They don't look at me, you know, most of the time they don't," Clash said.

Sonia Manzano, who has played the character Maria on "Sesame Street" for almost 40 years, said children seem to connect with Elmo's constant, upbeat attitude.

"He's absolutely positive, things cannot go wrong," she said. "Elmo can fix it and Elmo can make things go well."

Perhaps that's the reason why meeting Elmo is a popular request for the "Make-A-Wish" Foundation, according to the non-profit organization that works to grant wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Clash said that even when meeting with a dying child, he stays in character the whole time.

"You have to focus on the fact that this child is here for their friend and they are here to have a play date," he said. "To be a part of that and to be able to give back that way is always very humbling."

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