The Death of David

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Jan 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/18/99
Well, there are a number of different stories regarding this, and probably
all of them are incorrect.

According to a reliable source (Jerry Nelson in fact), Calloway got into a
lot of trouble in the early 1980s. He was apparently arrested on account of
assault or something to that effect. He apparently had a nervous breakdown,
and it was the start of the slow but steady decline. CTW still had faith in
him, and he remained on the show until his departure shortly before his
untimely death. According to Nelson, it was apparent that something was
still bothering the actor even during this time.

If you noticed, there was a very sharp decline in both his appearance and
voice during the years 1985 to 1989. He appeared heavy and his voice was
getting raspy. He appeared to get laryngitis whenever he would raise his
voice. Even as a child I noticed this change, for I had the old records from
the 70s where his voice was absolutely beautiful. Now, it was almost scary
at times. For the last two or so years, he appeared less frequently on the
show, and no longer sang nearly as much as he did in the early years.

The final episode featuring Calloway was the momentous "Birth of Gabriella"
episode which aired as the season closer in May 1989. When the new season
began, he was no longer on the show. The absence was explained with that
"Postcard" sequence that I had mentioned before, and his name and likeness
was never seen on the show again.

Calloway died on January 9, 1990 at the age of 41. According to the obituary
in the New York Times: "The Westchester County Medical Examiner’s office
said Mr. Calloway had been taken to a psychiatric facility, Stony Lodge
Hospital, in Osssining, where he had lost consciousness shortly after his
arrival. He was then taken to Phelps Memorial Hospital in North Tarrytown,
NY, where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death has not been

Since his death, there have been rumors of drug abuse and cancer, but since
his surviving family never publicly announced the true cause of his death,
they remain only rumors. According to the Internet Movie Database, he died
as a result of "Stomach cancer", which certainly explains the rapid bloating
that happened to him within his last three years.

Either way, it is very sad, and especially distressing to see people talk
about the man as abusing drugs and stuff, especially when no real proof has
surfaced. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't, but one thing is for sure. He was
dedicated to his work. He was on the show from 1972 to 1989, and has become
a favorite among the many, many viewers of the show during that time. His
work was truly special. He was a gifted man, and will always be a favorite
of mine.

Goodnight, David.

(For the fans of "Classic Sesame Street"!)


Jan 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/19/99
I guess this isn't the kind of info they wanted to put into Unpaved, but it
would have been informative.


Jan 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/19/99
The Nashville Tennessean
September 20, 1980
Sesame Street Actor Charged In Neighborhood Rampage Here
by Randy Hilman
An actor on the popular children's television series Sesame Street was charged
here yesterday with staging a rampage on Graybar Lane after apparently going
berserk, police said.
Northern J. Calloway, 32, of New York City, was subdued by three police
officers after having beaten a woman with an iron rod, smashing the windows of
one house, breaking into and vandalizing a second residence and breaking the
windshield of an automobile, officers said.
"I'm David of Sesame Street and they're trying to kill me," screamed Calloway
after metro ambulance personnel strapped the man--dressed only in a
tee-shirt--onto a stretcher near the intersection of Graybar Lane and Benham
"I still don't know what went wrong with him." said Sgt. Joel Goodwin. "When
the officers finally captured him, he was saying all kinds of strange things,
and he appeared to be trying to eat the grass."
The sergeant said Calloway was taken first to Vanderbilt Hospital for emergency
treatment of cuts he suffered while breaking out the windows of two homes.
Later, he was transported to Middle Tennessee Health Institute for observation.
The children's actor has been charged with aggravated assault in connection
with the beating of Mary Stagaman, 27, a resident of Villager Condominiums,
3600 Hillsboro Road. She was listed in stable condition in Vanderbilt
Hospital's intensive care unit with head injuries and broken ribs.
Miss Stagaman, director of marketing for the Tennessee Performing Arts Center,
had received Calloway as her house guest following his performance Saturday in
"David of Sesame Street" at the center. Calloway plays the role regularly on
the popular children's program on educational television.
TPAC officials expressed surprise that the actor still was in Nashville, noting
that Calloway, who mentioned that he was exhausted from his hectic performing
schedule, claimed he had to return to New York last Sunday for Monday morning
taping sessions of Sesame Street.
"The whole thing is a mystery to me," said Warren Sumners, TPAC managing
director. "It's not uncommon for a performer like this to be tired and be on
tight schedules. But he was marvelous to work with.
"He must have come back to Nashville sometime this week," Sumners added.
Goodwin said police received a call about 9 a.m. yesterday that a naked person
was running through the neighborhood, screaming and wreaking havoc. When
officers Raymond McWhorter and James Murphy arrived on Graybar Lane, they saw a
"wild man wearing only a T-shirt" running down the street, the sergeant added.
"The two officers chased him on foot and caught up with him at one point, but
he was real sweaty and slipped free. Officer (Steve) Anderson joined in the
chase and the three of them caught Calloway at Glen Echo Road and Benham Avenue
and put the cuffs on him. He was wild."
Goodwin, tracing the path of the man during the 45-minute incident, said
Calloway apparently left Miss Stagaman's condominium shortly before 9 a.m. and
began running back and forth the 1900 block of Graybar Lane, moving in an
easterly direction.
"From what we can tell, he smashed out a large plate-glass window and storm
door at 2000 Graybar Lane, but didn't enter the residence there," Goodwin said.
Cut from the broken glass, Calloway then ran to a residence at 1932 Graybar
Lane, broke into the home, and demolished the interior of that residence.
The owners of the homes could not be reached for comment.
Goodwin said Calloway then ran out into the street and took a schoolbook bag
from a youngster waiting for the school bus. After taking the bag, he picked up
a large rock and smashed out the windshield of a parked Volkswagen, the officer
"He tried to get into a number of cars and left a trail of blood wherever he
ran," Goodwin said.
One man, Douglas Wright, of 1770 Hillmont Drive, said he fired a shot at the
"My wife and I saw the man run, naked, into our garage," said Wright.

The Nashville Tennessean
September 21, 1980
An actor on the television series "Sesame Street" says he doesn't know what
caused him to go on an alleged rampage in which police say he ran nearly naked
through a neighborhood, breaking windows.
"It will be a sad, sad thing for the children to hear about this," said
Northern J. Calloway, who plays the affable David on the award-winning Public
Broadcasting Service children's series.
"I can't remember a thing. I've never had a spell like this before," Calloway,
32, said.
General Sessions Judge Gale Robinson ordered Calloway held without bond on
aggravated assault charges and approved his transfer to the Middle Tennessee
Mental Health Institute.
During the alleged rampage Friday morning, a Nashville woman with whom Calloway
reportedly was staying was seriously injured after being beaten with an iron.
Screaming "I'm David of 'Sesame Street' and they're trying to kill me,"
Calloway, wearing only a T-shirt, was strapped by ambulance workers onto a
stretcher at a city intersection and covered with a sheet.
The New York actor was taken to Vanderbilt Hospital for treatment of cuts
police said he received while breaking out windows in two homes.
Calloway was in Nashville last weekend to perform at the opening of the
Tennessee Performing Arts Center, and officials said they thought he had left
town last Sunday.
Police said Mary Stagaman, 27, marketing director for the arts center, was
beaten on the head and chest with an iron. She was in serious condition
Saturday in Vanderbilt Hospital's intensive care unit, suffering from broken
ribs and head injuries.


Jan 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/19/99
to (CTedder) wrote:

>I guess this isn't the kind of info they wanted to put into Unpaved, but it
>would have been informative.

It would have at least been nice if they'd gotten the year he died
correct (they say that he died in 1989).


remove Tricky Dick to reply


Jan 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/19/99

When I was in 4th Grade (1981-1982), a friend of mine had told me that
"David from Sesame Street" hadgone crazy and beaten a woman with an iron. For
all of these years I thought it was a rumor, but I guess it wasn't, even though
my friend was a little late with the info and it was an iron rod used rather
than the household appliance.
Psychology/Social Studies teacher for hire
Fan of: Jim Henson/Muppets/Sesame Street, video games, cartoons, music, magic
"If people say you can't do something, prove them wrong! "


Jan 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/19/99

BVonBraun wrote:
> The Nashville Tennessean

> September 20, 1980 [etc...]

Gee, when I was a kid, I had heard that David was arrested for running
around naked and beating a woman with a lead pipe. I always wondered
what the real story behind that was. Thanks for the info!



Jan 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/20/99
>Calloway died on January 9, 1990 at the age of 41.

Well that's a hell of a note. On my 15th b-day he died. Oh well.

Jonathan Lentz (
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