David Smyrl (1935 - 2016)

David L. Smyrl, the actor who played Hooper's Store owner Mr. Handford on the Public Broadcating Service series in the 1990s, has died. He was 80.

Smyrl died Tuesday at Lankenau Medical Center outside Philadelphia. His wife, Cheryl Smyrl, said he was diagnosed with lung cancer in January.

"He was funny," his wife said. "I could say so many good things about him. He was loved by so many people. He was a mentor to a lot of children. He was a family man, loyal, true, and faithful."

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David Smyrl was born Sept. 12, 1935, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During his 20s, he recited poems in New York City's Greenwich Village, according to his wife. He launched his TV career in New York, on the show "Express Yourself."

During the 1970s, Smyrl worked on the sitcom "Benson" after moving to California. He earned a People's Choice Award. He also wrote for "The Cosby Show" and played a contractor on the sitcom.

Smyrl was known best, however, as the smiling, singing store-owner on "Sesame Street." He played Mr. Handford from 1990 to 1998 and won eight Emmy awards during that time span.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a stepson, Pancho Scott.

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