Kermit Love was one of the few who revolutionised the craft of not just simply connecting the costume with the character but by making the costumes an extension of the emotional undercurrents, mood, and mindset of each production.
Over his 70 plus year career, Love collaborated with heavyweights including Twyla Tharp, Cecil B DeMille, George Blanchine and on a more memoriable note Jim Henson.
Kermit Love was born in 1916 and began his career in the 1930s, as a puppeteer for the Federal Works Progress Administration and as a costume designer for Orsen Welles’ Mercury Theater, then moved into Hollywood projects and teamed up with costume designer Barbara Karinska, with whom he devised the costumes for Agnes de Mille's ballet Rodeo.
Love subsequently met and collaborated with Jerome Robbins, creating the apparel for the stage musical Fancy Free, and New York City Ballet maestro Balanchine, he designed the costumes for productions including Don Quixote, L'Enfant et les Sortilèges, Firebird Wings, and Adagio Lamentoso.
Love's relationship with Jim Henson, however, was one of the most productive and brought some of his most widely seen creations. The two became acquainted through the Judson Theater, and shortly thereafter, Henson recruited Love to design some of the iconic Sesame Street characters in the late '60s, including Big Bird, Mr. Snuffleupagus, and Cookie Monster.
It was Love's idea, in fact, to make Big Bird a full-body puppet, a concept reportedly inspired by his perception of the tall and loping Henson.
He remained with the program for decades and also appeared on-camera from time to time as Willy the Hot Dog Vendor, reprising that role in the 1985 Sesame Street big-screen movie ‘Sesame Street Presents: Follow The Bird’.
After a long illness, Love died of congestive heart failure in his home of Poughkeepsie, NY, in June 2008. He was 91.