Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Sinister Sam

WMW Sinister Sam

Today’s post was written by Michael Baldasare. To contribute an article about your favorite Muppet for Weekly Muppet Wednesdays, email us at muppetmindset@gmail.com!


Performed by…Sinister Sam
Jim Henson

First appearance…
Sesame Street Season 3 (1971)

Most recent appearance…
Sesame Street Season 20 (1989)

Best known role…
Mean-looking but harmless cowboy

Memorable quote…
“All right! Listen you varmints, I was out at the general store today and some hombre bought the last box of crayons! And I wanna know ‘Y’!”

Sinister Sam is a cowboy with a bushy, all-encompassing black beard who appeared in many of the popular Old West sketches on Sesame Street. Sinister Sam’s personality is very similar to Bad Bart. In most sketches he appeared in, it seemed like he was going to make trouble to the townspeople, but he always turned out to be harmless. Sinister Sam and Bad Bart were very similar in that they were both made from the same Large Lavender Live Hand Anything Muppet pattern and both performed by Jim Henson.

Sinister Sam first appeared in a sketch where he came to a saloon looking for Doc Holiday. He questioned the frightened townspeople, looking for the doctor, but he found the fire fighter and the mailman. He said he was looking for the doctor because he had an itchy trigger finger. Sam found the doctor cowering under the table and wanted him to make his itchness go away–it was driving him crazy. Doc Holiday fainted and Sam shrugged to join the patrons for some milk.

In the late 1970’s Sinister Sam appeared in his best known sketch, which was shown many times throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. In the sketch, Sinister Sam storms in, announcing that someone had bought the last box of crayons, and he wanted to know “why.” It turned out that he just wanted a black crayon so he could learn how to draw the letter ‘Y’.

Sinister Sam made his last appearance in a parody sketch of High Noon called “High 12” during Season 20. In that sketch, Clementine didn’t want Forgetful Jones to meet Sinister Sam, the meanest man in the West, at the train station at twelve o’clock–especially since it was their wedding day. Forgetful and his trusted horse, Buster, convinced her that “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” When Sam showed up, he told Forgetful, in a threatening manner, that he had something to say: That it was nice of him to remember to meet him at his train! Forgetful asked Sam for some lemonade, and Forgetful forgot his wedding to Clementine.

Like Bad Bart, the townspeople must know and understand that Sinister Sam is very trustworthy and mostly harmless, even though he looks very mean. They must know that they shouldn’t be scared of him and be kind to him just because he looked mean. Sinister Sam is a good message of not judging a book by its cover.

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

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