Northern Calloway played David on Sesame Street from 1971 through 1989 – and he shares a birthday with me! On Sesame Street, David was often seen flirting with Maria, as her unofficial boyfriend, plus he voiced some Muppet characters including Same-Sound Brown. The character of David was also studying to be a lawyer, but when Mr. Hooper died, David took over Hooper's Store. But it was not all sunny days on Sesame Street...
By the late 70's, Calloway slowly began to exhibit signs of bipolar disorder which led to a nervous breakdown on the morning of September 19, 1980 in Nashville, TN. He beat a woman with an iron rod, giving her head and rib injuries. He then fled into the suburbs of Nashville half naked, wearing nothing but a Superman T-shirt. Along the way, he smashed a plate-glass window and storm door at one house and did extensive damage to the the interior of another, destroying the family's collection of fine crystal, smashing a television set and breaking light bulbs with his bare hands. He also stole a backpack from a first grader and smashed a windshield with a rock. He was arrested after hiding out in a couple's garage, screaming "Help! I'm David from Sesame Street and they're trying to kill me!"
Today the tabloids would have a field day with this piece of gossip but back then they were able to keep the incident relatively hushed. Despite the freak-out, Children's Television Workshop showed it's loyalty and allowed Calloway to continue to work on Sesame Street for nine more years. But those years were marked by periods of declining health – Northern got fat – with episodes of erratic behavior. In 1989 Children's Television Workshop finally retired Calloway for "medical reasons", and his character was written out. Calloway died in 1990, two weeks before his 42nd birthday.
In the authorized book Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street, author Michael Davis claims that Calloway had been a patient at the Stony Lodge psychiatric facility in Ossining, NY at the end of his life, and had died after going into cardiac arrest during a violent altercation with a staff physician. A coroner's report listed Calloway's official cause of death as exhaustive psychosis, now more commonly referred to as excited delirium syndrome (EDS).
I personally will always remember Northern Calloway as David, the cool guy on Sesame Street.
Here's Calloway, in happier times, singing on his Sesame Street solo album, David...Daydreamin' on a Rainy Day...
[DOWNLOAD] David...Daydreamin' On A Rainy Day
01- I Wish
02- David's Circus
03- Jump Up High
04- Wonderful You, Wonderful Me
05- The Hat Song
06- Rubberband Band
07- What D'ya Wanna Do Today?
10- Space Cadet
12- You Are My Friend
TRIVIA: The Beastie Boys sampled David's "I Wish" at the end of their song "And Me" on the album Hello Nasty.