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David Smyrl, Mr. Handford on ‘Sesame Street,’ dead at 80

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PHILADELPHIA — An Emmy-winning actor best known for his role as Mr. Handford, the retired firefighter who ran Hooper’s Store on “Sesame Street,” has died. David Smyrl was 80.

Smyrl’s wife, Cheryl, says he died Tuesday of lung cancer at Lankenau Medical Center outside Philadelphia.

Smyrl started his television career in New York in the 1970s on the show “Express Yourself.” His work on the sitcom “Benson” in the 1970s earned him a People’s Choice Award. He also worked as a writer and actor on “The Cosby Show,” playing contractor Sam Lucas.

From 1990 to 1998, Smyrl played the smiling, singing store owner on “Sesame Street.” He succeeded Leonard Jackson, who played a grumpier Handford.

A funeral is scheduled for Monday.