Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Gladys the Cow

WMW Gladys

Written by Ryan Dosier.

GLADYS THE COW

Performed by…Gladys
Richard Hunt (1973-1992)
Jennifer Barnhart (2003-present)

First known appearance…
Sesame Street Season 6 (1975)

Most recent known appearance…
Sesame Street Season 36 (2006)

Famous quote…
“I’m proud, proud, proud to be a cow!”

Good friend…
Old MacDonald (They’re udderly inseparable!)

WHO IS GLADYS THE COW?
Gladys is a bovine diva who could compete with the great Ethel Merman herself. (No, Miss Merman, that isn’t a crack at your weight. Please don’t call me Mickey Mouse.) Gladys’ forte is her vocal prowess and ability to carry a truly moo-ving tune (last “moo” pun, promise). She fancies herself a grand opera singer but has never appeared on the operatic stage (although she does already have the horns for the part).

Gladys’ most famous moment is her performance of the song “I’m Proud to Be a Cow.” In the song, she illustrates numerous reasons why she has pride in her species. This includes her pride of her utter like her father (no, her mother) along with her rich and creamy butter.

In her prime, Gladys was a part of the large ensemble cast of Sesame Street throughout the ’70s and ’80s. She would occasionally appear in street stories, but more often than not she appeared in various inserts such as Kermit the Frog’s lectures, Guy Smiley’s game shows, and Prairie Dawn’s pageants.

After Richard Hunt’s death, Gladys was retired until 2003 when she began to reappear more frequently as part of the ensemble cast once again, this time performed by Jeniffer Barnhart. One of her notable roles in this period was in the premiere episode of Season 34 where she tried to sing her karaoke rendition of “By the Light of the Silvery Moon.” Unfortunately, the rest of the cast took up too much time and poor Gladys never got a chance to shine.

GLADYS THE COW MOMENTS

  • Gladys vs. Elmo 
  • “I’m Proud to Be a Cow”
  • “Three of These Things”
  • Gladys tries to be Kermit
  • The Amazing Mumford makes Gladys Disappear
  • Gladys at the Double R Ranch
  • Gladys the seed
  • Gladys and Buster the Horse, “Different But the Same”

WHY DOES SESAME STREET NEED GLADYS THE COW?
Well, aside from being a huge Richard Hunt presence on the show (which some would argue is part of what the show has been missing), Gladys is also a huge presence in and of herself. It doesn’t get more in-your-face than a pushy, loud, opera singing cow diva.

Gladys also adds another strong female character to the mix. Gladys is right up there with Maria as a strong female character (albeit strong for different reasons). Besides, is there anything better than opening up the Pandora’s Box of cow puns?

Quite frankly, I just love Gladys as a character and she deserves to be moo-ved back into the forefront and milked for the udderly uncowardly performer she is! (What? Too cheesy?)

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

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