Michael Wermuth- For 45 years, Sesame Street has introduced scores of characters. With so many characters, popularity is bound to vary. There are the ones everybody knows like Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, and Cookie Monster. There are characters who haven’t appeared on the show for years, even decades, but were on long enough for a fairly big amount of people to know, like Sherlock Hemlock, Forgetful Jones, and Alice Snuffleupagus. There are characters who were on for only a small number of years who while not on long were still popular enough, like Roosevelt Franklin, Placido Flamingo, and Sam the Robot. There are also characters who don’t really have many appearances, like Little Jerry and the Monotones, Sinister Sam, and Lefty the Salesman, but their few appearances are well-known enough. But then there are characters who were on for a really short amount of time, whose appearances are not widely available for the fans to see. Maybe they were just on for a season or two, but while there are quite a few characters who weren’t on for very long but whose existing appearances continued to be shown for many years after being dropped, there are also a lot whose appearances are rare, especially in English. With so many episodes as well as so many not seen in years (combined with the fact that Sesame Street began about a decade and a half before it was common for people to record television), there are a good number of characters that even the most hardcore fans don’t know a lot about. And today, I’d like to draw attention to some of them.
The host of “The Leslie Mostly Show”, Leslie interviewed familiar Sesame Street characters via satellite. Among those she interviewed were Cookie Monster, The Count, and The Amazing Mumford. I think Leslie Mostly was one of the few characters performed by Michael Earl who was not recast after her performers departure from the show.
Deena and Pearl
A monster duo featured in season 12, Deena was a monster who was obsessed with playing, while Pearl was the straight woman of the duo. In a recent Muppet Mindset interview with Norman Stiles, the writers found Deena’s obsession with playing so annoying that the duo was dropped after only a few appearances.
Shivers the Penguin
Shivers the Penguin was a penguin who Big Bird carried in his arm and had sit on his lap. The character was performed by Caroll Spinney, in a way similar to Spinney performing Oscar and Bruno at the same time. In 2013, a clip of the character from the concert special Big Bird in Australia was posted online thanks to the people at Copper Pot Pictures (the company behind I Am Big Bird).
Stella was a female construction worker who worked alongside Biff and Sully a few times in the early 1990s. There’s only two appearances by her I know of: The song “This Song is For the Birds”, and in the episode where Hooper’s Store was rebuilt. In “This Song is For the Birds”, she only says one word, “Yo!”, which seems to indicate she didn’t talk much. Too bad there aren’t more known appearances by her.
Warren Wolf was a short-lived reporter substitute for Kermit the Frog, and one of Kevin Clash’s earliest characters (before he had officially joined the show full-time). While the character was featured in a press release regarding the many new characters introduced in season 12, there is only one known appearance by the character, in which he interviews Dr. Nobel Price on his invention known as The Talky Stick, which turned out to be a microphone. It’d be interesting to see what other Warren Wolf sketches there are.
Dexter was a juggling Muppet, whose primary obsession was with juggling. In the book My Life as a Furry Red Monster, Kevin Clash referred to the character as the shows biggest failure, as the juggling was difficult to do.
Aristotle was a blind monster introduced in season 13. For years, none of the fans had access to any clips with this character, but then in 2011, two Aristotle clips were added to sesamestreet.org, where he helped David make lunch and showed Big Bird that blind people read with Braille. Hopefully someday we’ll see more footage of the character. I’ve heard that he and Telly were close friends, so it would be good to see one of their pairings someday.