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Barkley

     

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PERFORMER Toby Towson 1978
  Brian Muehl 1979-1984
  Fred "Garbo" Garver 1984-1993
  Bruce Connelly 1993-present
DEBUT 1978
DESIGN Michael K. Frith designer
  Susan Moore builder
SesameStreet-Barkley
Barkley
Barkleygreatwall

Barkley at the Great Wall in Big Bird in China.

1189b

Barkley nuzzles with Maria and the kids.

Barkleysketch

Concept sketch.

Kisekaejiman-4

Barkley plays with Baby Elmo, in a Sesame Street Japan cellphone wallpaper, 2011.

Barkley is a full-bodied Muppet dog who appears on Sesame Street. Barkley debuted in the premiere episode of the show's 10th season, where he was initially called "Woof-Woof" and the cast voted to rename him "Barkley."

Barkley is energetic and playful, but is not anthropomorphized in the way that Rowlf and other characters are. While he may exhibit human-like emotions, he communicates only through barks, yelps, and physical contact. He was Linda's dog and understood the American Sign Language signs for "sit" and "stay." However, Barkley also had a close relationship with Big Bird. Indeed, in the 1993 book Imagine... Big Bird Meets Santa Claus, the large bird refers to Barkley as his dog. Although Linda has since moved on from Sesame Street, Barkley has remained, presumably becoming a ward of the community as a whole. The book A Bird's Best Friend shows that Granny Bird brought Barkley as a puppy for a present for Big Bird.

Barkley's appearances in television specials include the 1978 A Special Sesame Street Christmas and the 1979 A Walking Tour of Sesame Street. More prominently, he accompanied Big Bird on his trips to China in 1982 and Japan in 1988. He also appeared with the Muppets en masse on Night of 100 Stars. Additionally, from season 12 (1980) to season 23 (1992), the Sesame Street closing credits featured Barkley running through a park with the Kids.

Barkley's most recent appearances on the show include cameos in "Riding My Tricycle" and episode 4214, and more prominent appearances in the premiere episode of season 40, being walked (or ran) by Bob, and in a season 43 episode.

In a season 19 episode, Elmo has a new pet fish that he names Barkley.

Behind the Scenes

The creation of Barkley traces to the early months of 1978,[1] when Jim Henson and Michael K. Frith were tasked with developing ideas for new Muppet characters to reinvigorate Sesame Street for it's upcoming tenth season.[2] One of Frith's rejected character pitches, a living pile of trash that acted as a font of knowledge, would later become Marjory the Trash Heap for Fraggle Rock.[2] Original performer Toby Towson claimed, in a 2003 Wikipedia edit, that the full-bodied puppet character was initially conceived as an acrobatic ape, but was ultimately revised to a large furry dog.

According to Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street, the writers had created the character as a pretty savvy canine who knew how to count and had an almost human intelligence, but performer Brian Muehl thought that he should be portrayed like a regular dog.[3]

While inside Barkley, the performer wears stilts on both arms.[3] In order to make his mouth move, the performer must pull a trigger on one of its stilts to close the mouth, and tilt his head to make it open.[3]

Barkley was Brian Muehl's favorite character to perform, along with Telly. According to him, the large canine "was the apogee of my mime roots and was pure visual puppetry."

Book appearances

Sources

  1. Falk, Karen. Imagination Illustrated. p. 114 (noted in Jim Henson's journal as taking place during "January/February")
  2. 2.0 2.1 Fraggle Rock: Complete Third Season bonus feature "How the Trash Heap Came to Be"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Gikow, Louise Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street pages 92-93

Start a Discussion Discussions about Barkley

  • Barkley's Debut Year

    4 messages
    • Highlighting this so other users can have their say, or present other relevant info on this topic.
    • Those are all irrefutable sources. I'm guessing Danny saw 1978 has his debut year and picked season 9. It's also notable that the first episode...

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