Count von Count (often simply referred to as The Count) is a vampire-like Muppet character who has appeared on the educational children's program Sesame Street since its fourth season in 1972. The Count has purple skin, black hair, big eyebrows, pointy ears and nose, a widow's peak hairdo, a goatee beard and two prominent canine teeth. He wears a formal evening suit with a cape and has a monocle in one eye. He speaks with a heavy Eastern European accent, for example, pronouncing "one" as "vun". The Count's voice, appearance and mannerisms are based on Count Dracula as played by the Hungarian-born actor Bela Lugosi in the 1931 movie Dracula. The character also bears a strong physical resemblance to the blue-skinned, monocle-wearing Count Dracula puppet from Mad Monster Party?, a 1967 animated movie.
The Count loves to count anything and everything, regardless of whether or not it is helpful to other characters. When he finishes counting, he proudly announces the total, there is a clap of thunder and a flash of lightning. He lives in a creepy looking castle in Transylvania, which he shares with his pet cat Fatatia, his pet octopus Octavia and several bats. Some of the bats have names, including Grisha, Misha, Sasha and Tattiana. There is a large pipe organ in the Count's castle which he often plays. The Count's girlfriends have included Lady Two, Countess Dahling von Dahling and Countess von Backwards. His mother, brother and grandparents have also appeared on Sesame Street.
When he first appeared, the Count was a rather sinister figure. Creepy organ music would play when he arrived on screen. When he finished counting various different colors would flash on the screen as he laughed villainously. Over the years the scary side of the Count has been toned down and his laugh has changed into a throaty chuckle.
Whether or not Count von Count is vampire is a matter of some dispute. He is described in the 1998 book Sesame Street Unpaved as a "Numerical Vampire". However, the 2001 Sesame Street Muppet Drawing Guide, a reference work for commercial artists, flatly states, "The Count is not a vampire". The Count has certainly never been seen biting other characters and drinking their blood but in early appearances he waved his hand to hypnotize other Muppets, he covered the lower part of his face with his cape when he moved, and one sketch showed that he had no reflection in the mirror. Compulsive counting itself is a weakness that all vampires have, according to Eastern European folklore. According to tradition, scattering seeds or other small objects on the floor offers protection from a vampire, which can be kept busy counting them all night.
Although the Count may not officially be a vampire according to the makers of Sesame Street, he has certainly given thousands of children nightmares and continues to do so.