Nightly News | November 20, 2012
>>> now to a huge story today and its impact on the children and their parents across this country and around the world who are fans of elmo on sesame street . the long-time puppeteer and voice of elmo resigned today because of a relationship with a man in his personal life . a heads up here, if you have kids in the room right now, use discretion. this is a real life story about a beloved character.
>> reporter: for 28 years, kevin brought elmo to life on sesame street , turning a minor character into an icon. la-la-la-la elmo 's world
>> today he resigned the same day he was hit with a lawsuit. a man claims he had a relationship with clash nearly a decade ago when he was 15 and clash 43.
>> if i knew this was a recurring thing, and i wasn't special, i would have said something much sooner.
>> reporter: just last week, a 24-year-old made a similar allegation, then recanted. calling it a sad day, sesame workshop released a statement saying, none of us, especially kevin want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization . unfortunately, the controversy surrounding kevin 's personal life has become a distraction. in an interview in september, the show's executive producer said clash was a driving force behind the success.
>> part of it is the magic of kevin as a performer. he really channels a 3.5-year-old when he performs that character.
>> reporter: he was the subject of a documentary, beagle mow, a puppeteer's journey last year.
>> elmo has been a big part of the lucrative merchandising of sesame street . royalties brought in nearly $45 million in 2009 .
>> whenever there's an attack on a much loved brand, there's a lot of outpouring of support as a result, almost as if the public is lining up behind the brand saying, hey, we're with you.
>> reporter: for clash, it's the end of a storied career with a show he described lovingly just months ago.
>> i think it's so wonderful to be part of a show that really starts a child, helps with the parent.
>> reporter: today in a statement, clash said he was resigning with a very heavy heart. and hopes to resolve these personal matters privately. in the meantime, sesame street says production of its 43rd season will not be affected. chris jansing , nbc news, new york.