David Smyrl Dies: Sesame Street’s Mr. Handford Dead at 80

David Smyrl, who played Mr. Handford on Sesame Street, died on Tuesday, March 22, after battling lung cancer. He was 80.

The actor was best known for his role as the retired firefighter who ran Hooper’s Store on the beloved children’s series, which he starred on from 1990 to 1998.

David Smyrl
David Smyrl on 'Sesame Street.' Sesame Street

“He was funny,” his wife, Cheryl Smyrl, told the Associated Press. “I could say so many things about him. He was loved by so many people. He was a mentor to a lot of children.”

She continued, “He was a family man, loyal, true and faithful.”

Smyrl, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in January, started his career in the 1960s when he performed as a coffeehouse poet in Greenwich Village in NYC. He eventually relocated to California to work on TV sitcoms such as Benson, which earned him a People’s Choice Award, and The Cosby Show.

The actor enjoyed his role as the happy-go-lucky store owner on Sesame Street because “he loved children,” according to his wife, who he met in 1975. The pair married in April 1992 and shared a stepson, Pancho Scott.

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