Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Betty Lou

WMW Betty Lou

Written by Mike Baldasare.


Betty LouPerformed by…

First appearance…
Sesame Street Season 1 (1969)

Most recent appearance…
Sesame Street “What’s Different?” Book (2009)

Best known role…
Sesame Street’s resident Anything Muppet young girl

Vlcsnap-1206171Betty Lou is a young girl who lives on Sesame Street, and had been variously played by various original Sesame Street performers over the years, including Jim Henson, Frank Oz (in the game show “Pick Your Pet”, where she’s called Lucy Jones), Caroll Spinney, Fran Brill, Marilyn Sokol (in the songs “The Subway” and “I Want a Monster to Be My Friend”), and Lisa Buckley, as well as many others.

BettyLou-PrairieDawn-signBetty Lou is a lot like Prairie Dawn; so much so, that they are sometimes difficult to separate. This confusion has gone so deep, that SesameStreet.org once used an image of Prairie Dawn for both her character page and Betty Lou’s. It really turns out that the real difference between the girls is their hair. Betty Lou always sports her trademark ponytails and usually a blue bow atop her head, while Prairie’s hair is short and straight.

Donahue01During the early years, Betty Lou was a minor character who was performed by whichever performer was available. From the beginning, and still to this day, Betty Lou seemed to appear more in books than on the show. Betty Lou performed a number of songs as well, including “I Want a Monster to Be My Friend” (credited on The Sesame Street Monsters! album as “Little Girl”), “Amigo” with her bilingual friend Carlos in a sketch from the mid-80s, and the song “Exercise” during Season 15. She also made a background appearance in the song “Listen to the Bells” and, according to the Sesame Street 35 Years Anniversary Game, she once opened up a medical program for dolls called the “Betty Lou Clinic.”

BettylouGrover-+Sesame+WorkshopDue to an increased attempt by Sesame Workshop to balance the number and prominence of the male and female characters, Betty Lou appeared on a more regular basis in street stories and inserts at the start of the 25th season (1993-1994). Lisa Buckley became her consistent performer, and Betty Lou developed an interest in collecting dolls before fading once again into the background. In Episode 3158, she found her “despondent over the evil spell cast on her doll’s lost love, Prince Ted.” Her 1990s renaissance can be seen in original framing material in the 1996 video Do the Alphabet, the 1993 Sesame Street Live show “When I Grow Up,” and in the song “Girl of the World,” which also featured Prairie Dawn, Zoe, and Rosita.

Betty Lou lives with her mother. She has a baby sister, as seen in the book Grover Learns to Read, and a little brother named Herbie, who appeared in at least one book, The Sesame Street Bedtime Storybook.

Well, it is confusing to figure out why Sesame Street really needs Betty Lou. Since both Prairie Dawn and Betty Lou are very similar and are both made from a Small Pink Anything Muppet pattern. Still, another female Muppet character is always welcome on Sesame Street. The more gender diversity, the better.


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

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