Simon Shelton Barnes, the actor who played the purple character Tinky Winky on the beloved kids show Teletubbies, has died at the age of 52. Simon reportedly passed away from hypothermia on January 17 after collapsing in the street. Since the news of his death went public, several have paid tribute to the late actor.
Simon’s niece, actress Emily Atack, remembered her uncle on Instagram, writing, “My wonderful uncle Simon Barnes has been taken from us all so suddenly. The kindest and most talented man you could ever wish to meet. Loved by all who knew him, and will be forever. X.”
Simon’s former Teletubbies co-star John Simmit, who played Dipsy on the show, posted this throwback pic of the cast and wrote, “RIP Simon Shelton aka Tinky Winky : remembering the many good times. Rest easy.”
Simon’s son Henry confirmed the news of his father’s death on Facebook, calling him “the kindest and most gentle man I knew.” Henry admitted that he was embarrassed by his father’s career as child, “but now I couldn’t be more proud.”
“He is in a better place now and I know he wouldn't want me to be sad, so I'm going to live my life the way he would want me too,” he added.
Simon’s daughter Lydia wrote, “I love you so much Dad... always have, always will. The most beautiful man in the world. Forever in my heart.”
The father of three, who was a dancer and choreographer, gained fame in the late '90s when he was cast as Tinky Winky in Teletubbies, a kids show that became an international phenomenon. "I didn't know it would be as big as it was, but I did know as soon as I started working on it that it had something special," he said in 2008.