You may never have heard of Judy Freudberg but chances are good that you are familiar with her iconic Sesame Street creation, Elmo, the sweet, bright red puppet. Judy died of a brain tumor about 2 months ago at 62 and a lovely and poignant memorial service was held for her on Sunday afternoon, July 29, in New York. Judy wrote for Sesame Street for almost 4 decades, sharing in 17 Emmy awards along the way and co-writing the Spielberg animated movies, The Land Before Time and An American Tail.
Judy’s nieces, sister Joan, colleagues from Sesame Street and fellow horseback riding friends were among the eloquent speakers who remembered her. One friend pointed out how Judy resembled Big Bird with her yellow, spiky hair! Elmo even made an appearance with Puppeteer Kevin Clash. Judy’s friends from Middletown, NY, where she rode her beloved Icelandic horse, Lucca, sang a somewhat offkey but endearing rendition of Happy Trails.
We knew Judy was a laugh-inducing pixie but I also learned that she was a teenage cheerleader, lactose intolerant, a port devotee, tai chi adherent, cat lover, the world’s slowest eater and an inveterate, serial worrier. In other words, so very lovable.