David L. Smyrl Dies; Beloved Sesame Street Star Was 80

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David Langston Smyrl, a veteran actor best remembered for playing Mr. Handford on Sesame Street, died this week Lankenau Medical Center after a long battle with lung cancer.

He was 80 years old.

David L. Smyrl

Also a a writer, singer and voiceover artist, Smyrl grew up in Northern Philadelphia.

He began his career as a poet before landing his first job in television in New York in the 1970s on a show called Express Yourself.

Smyrl also appeared on Broadway in the late 1970s and earned a People’s Choice Award as a writer on the sitcom Benson.

After appearing on five episodes of the The Cosby Show as a contractor named Sam Lucas, Smyrl enjoyed small roles in a couple films before signing on as a singing store owner on Sesame Street from 1990 to 1998.

He was an eight-time Emmy Award winner for his contributions to children's television programming.

"He was a funny man, a good man, and he always had jokes for you," said his wife, Cheryl Pajil Smyrl, after news of Smyrl's death broke.

"He was loved by everyone, and very creative."

We send our condolences to his friends, family members and loved ones.

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