Learn About that Beloved Sesame Street Character Elmo


Elmo is a Red Muppet character from the HBO/PBS children’s television show Sesame Street. It is a red furry monster with a falsetto voice. He is having illeism, also presents the last full fifteen-minute segment and five minutes as of 2017 on Sesame Street, Elmo’s World. It is aimed at young children. Elmo was a puppeteer by Kevin Clash. Later on, he resigned from his job in 2012, and Ryan Dillon puppeteers the character, Elmo.

Elmo lives in a Sesame Street apartment with his father Louie, mother Mae, and in some storybooks, his sister’s name is Daisy. He has a pet goldfish named Dorothy and a dog named Togo, which was introduced in 2021. 

History of Elmo 

History of Elmo

Elmo describes himself as being three and half years old and his birthday is on February 3. This character typically avoids pronouns about himself, rather than referring to himself in the third person such as Elmo wants this instead of, I want this. 

Nancy Sans, the staff writer of Sesame Street described the origins of the Elmo as there was an extra red puppet lying around. The actors used to pick it up and create a personality but nothing materialized the puppet. 

The character of Elmo was originally conceived as a background and supporting character in the late 1970s. He first appeared in the song We Are Monsters by Sesame Street in 1980. Later on, Elmo was a recurring character on Sesame Street. In the later episodes of the series, he appeared as the supporting character. 

How Kevin Clash Got The Role?

How Kevin Clash Got The Role

From 1980 to 1981, the character was played by Jerry Nelson. Later on, it was played by Richard Hunt from 1984 to 1985. By 1985, Hunt was so frustrated that he squeezed the puppet and threw it at Kevin Clash. This is how Clash got to puppeteer the character, Elmo. It was Clash’s view that Elmo should be a kind and caring character. He gave energy to the Elmo character and from that day onwards, it was decided that all would be written for Elmo. 

The performance of Clash was inspiring that Jim Martin, Matt Vogel, and John Tartaglia provided the movement of Elmo’s legs and arms in green screenshots. These three were the secondary performers of the character. Alongside Cookie Monster, Elmo has appeared at the Furchester Hotel where he overstayed because he was fascinated with Furchester Hotel. Also, the father of Elmo is the brother of Funella Furchester. 

Popularity of Elmo 

Popularity of Elmo

Elmo appeared in an episode of The Torkelsons in 1991. Also, he was an occasional guest on The Frugal Gourmet. Elmo became a regular guest in the mid-1990s, especially on the Rosie O’Donnell Show. He appeared more than a dozen times from 1996 to 2002. The Tickle Me Elmo doll was made in his image and it became one of the must-have toys during the 1996 Christmas Season. 

The later variation and other Elmo dolls were Elmo Live, Chicken Dance Elmo, Big Hugs Elmo, Let’s Rock! Elmo. They were a huge success in the toy industry. Elmo appeared in numerous home videos such as Sing-Along Guessing Game, Elma Says BOO! The other videos were Elmo’s Potty Time and Elmo’s Magic Cookbook. 

Elmo appeared on numerous TV shows such as Elmo Saves Christmas, Elmopalooza, Elmo’s Christmas Countdown, The Sweet We Live On, etc. In 1999, a theatrical feature film starred by Elmo, The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland was a big hit. 

Elmo starred in various spin-off series such as The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo. In this series, he was a host of his late-night talk show. It took place just before his bedtime. 

In 1994, Elmo released a video for The Best Of, a sequel, The Best of Elmo 2 that was released in 2010. The thirds installment was The Best of Elmo 3 in 2015. Also, a Best Of album was released in 1997.

Elmo played in the recurring segments of Sesame Street Elmo’s World and Elmo the Musical. In addition, he also performed in the songs such as Happy Tappin’ with Elmo, Elmo’s Song, Elmo’s Rap Alphabet, In Your Imagination, The Elmo Slide, and Elmo’s Ducks. 

He appeared in several international co-productions such as 5, Rue Sesame in France, Sesamstrasse in Germany, Sesamgade in Denmark, Sesamstraat in the Netherlands, and The Furchester Hotel in the British co-production

Elmo was successful because of his red color. It was realized by Kermit Love who was a designer or builder with the Muppets. He acted as Willy, the hot dog vendor on Sesame Street. 

Elmo co-star CinderElmo French Steward listed the three-year-old monster’s acting skills behind Pacino, Streep, and Brando only. On the other hand, Oliver Platt remarked that he is a generous actor. 

Behind The Scenes 

Behind The Scenes

In 2011, there were eight or nine different Elmo puppets on the set. There was one Elmo that was with rods, which was a puppeteer by Kevin Clash and secondary puppeteers. To your surprise, there was a full RC Elmo. For a blue screen, there was another Elmo puppet. The tasks and performance of all these puppets Elmo were different from one another. 

Later on, there was a live-action variant of Elmo, that was used in the 4206 episode and other special episodes such as Elmo’s World: Happy Holidays. Also, Muppet Workshop now known as Jim Henson’s Creature Shop created dozens of variants of Elmo. They were used in the Tickle Me Land segments of Elmo’s World. It was a figment of Dorothy’s imagination. 

The designs of the Elmo puppet were on the basic principle but to create a unique design such as from a medic to a nurse and rock to an elephant. 

Clash’s Resignation 

Clash’s Resignation

In 2012, Kevin Clash resigned from the Sesame Workshop. Parts of season 44 were already filmed even before clash resigned from the workshop. He left some of his performances as Elmo 2013 to 2014 Sesame Street Season.

Clash also filmed an appearance of Elmo for the Michael Bublé: Home for the Holidays special, recorded Elmo’s voice for Marcy’s 2012 runway show, and the Big Hugs Elmo doll released in 2013. His last known public performance of Elmo was in a radio interview with WNYC on October 30, 2012. It was twenty days before the official resignation from Sesame Workshop. 

It is Sesame Workshop’s perspective that Elmo stands taller than anyone and he will continue to engage, inspire and educate children around the world as he has been doing it for the last 40 years. Even after Kevin Clash’s resignation, Elmo will still be alive. 

In 2013, Ryan Dillon reprised the portrayal of Elmo, making his first public appearance as the White House Easter Egg Roll in April. A month later, Peter Linz had lent his voice to this character for a commissioned recording. It was done for the opening ceremony of the Spaghetti Space Chase dark ride at Universal Studios Singapore. It was a one-time performance done by Linz. 

Controversy and Criticism 

Controversy and Criticism

Sesame Street fans have complained about Elmo’s prominent status. It has been dramatically reduced the roles of some older characters such as Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Prairie Dawn, Count von Count, Cookie Monster, and Grover. Sesame Street traditionalists have called Emo the Little Red Menace.

Some fans blame Elmo for the permanent departure of Kermit the Frog from Sesame Street. Sesame Workshop responds to the charge that Elmo referring to himself in the third person will teach children inappropriate English

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Elmo Sesame Street – A Red Furred Monster

Being a three-year-old monster, Elmo was one of the Sesame Streat Muppet Monster species. He characteristically avoided pronouns and referred to himself as a third person such as Elmo has a question, instead of, I have a question. 

The major performers are Kevin Clash who was puppeteer Elmo from 1985 to 2012. It was the time he resigned from the Sesame Workshop. Later on, Ryan Dillon puppeteer Elmo since 2013 till the date. Elmo has been a part of popular culture and famous among children. 

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Did You Know?

  1. Did you know that Elmo first appeared on Sesame Street as a background puppet in the show’s early years? Back then, the famous little Muppet didn’t have a personality either. Neither did any of the other Muppets.
  2. Elmo’s birthday has always been on February 3, and he has always been three and a half years old.
  3. When Kevin Clash was ten years old, he crafted his first puppet out of the lining of his father’s coat. His mother and father were consistently supportive of his artistic endeavors and were awed by his talent.
  4. Clash was a big fan of Sesame Street, and Grover was his favorite character on the show. However, in the documentary titled Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey which was released in 2010, he admitted that ever since he was nine years old, he had desired to play the role of Elmo the red monster.
  5. When Kevin Clash took over the role of voicing and puppeteering Elmo in 1984, the character’s popularity took off like a rocket. His use of a falsetto combined with his light Baltimore accent breathed new life into the puppet.
  6. There is a psychological explanation for why Elmo is so well-liked by children. He is just like toddlers who are in an exploratory stage of life, like little scientists, trying out and exploring what is around them. Elmo asks endearingly innocent questions, and he has a habit of speaking in the third person. This is similar to how toddlers behave.
  7. Elmo resides in an apartment with his mother Mae and his frequently absent military father Louie.
  8. The Elmo family is quite large. His mother Mae, his father Louie, his aunt Jill, his cousin Elmer, and his uncle Furgus Fuzz have all been introduced to viewers of Sesame Street over the course of his many years on the show.
  9. Did you know that Elmo, much like other children, has a fear of things that are both large and loud? Additionally, Elmo has a severe phobia of clowns.
  10. Kevin Clash, a talented voice actor, took over the role of Elmo in 1984 and continued to do so until 2012. However, beginning in 2012, Ryan Dillon provided the character’s voice acting.
  11. Elmo keeps a fish at his home that he calls Dorothy. He enjoys playing the toy piano and riding his tricycle around the house.
  12. In the 1990s, a toy based on Elmo known as “Tickle Me Elmo” was available for purchase. It didn’t take long for it to become one of the most sought-after Sesame Street toys available in retail outlets.
  13. Elmo may be a little red monster who is always three and a half years old, but it would appear that he has a developed palate because he can withstand spicy food. Because of this, wasabi is his choice when it comes to food. In 2010, he stated on his own that Elmo’s fondness for wasabi had been confirmed.
  14. Elmo’s early childhood has been featured in the Sesame Street’s Beginnings video series with Elmo as a 13-month-old infant, as well as in flashbacks shown in two episodes namely, Elmo’s Potty Time and Bye Bye Binky.
  15. Elmo does have eyelids, even though they aren’t always visible, they open up when he’s tired. His eyelids are a lavender color, and their appearance is emphasized by his brown eyelashes.
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