During the 1970s, the Sesame Street cast made live performances across the country, but there was no effective way to get Oscar to enter the stage. Caroll Spinney, inspired by a puppet character on The Gong Show, conceived of a full-body garbage man who could physically carry Oscar. Since his arms are usually just holding onto Oscar's trash can, Caroll Spinney was able to perform Oscar as well as Oscar's right hand while inside the Bruno costume. The trash can was connected to an opening in Bruno's stomach. Spinney could see through where the characters eyes would have been.
Though generally a silent character, one of the few times that Bruno spoke was in the song "Put It in the Trash Can", which he sang as part of a singing group, "Bruno and the Trashmen". He had a brief line at the end of Follow That Bird, saying "Sure, Boss!" when Oscar asked him to take a walk around the block. Similarly, when Oscar asks him a question during their appearance at the 1980 World Puppetry Festival, Bruno gets out a "Well, uh..." before Oscar cuts him off and says that's enough. An invisible wire was connected from Bruno's mouth to somewhere inside the trash can.
While primarily transporting Oscar, there have also been occasions, particularly during season 12, in which he also transported other characters by can. These include Episode 1541, in which he transports the kids and Buffy, who is sleeping in Oscar's can, to Camp Uglyyuccy, Episode 1564, in which he transports Buffy and Cody to the airport to go home, and an instance (which was included in 40 Years of Sunny Days) in which Oscar and Bruno go to the Cha-Cha Palace with Olivia, David, Mr. Hooper, Buffy, Cody, and Barkley in tow. In episodes 2681 and 2737, he transports Irvine to and from day care.
According to Spinney, Bruno's greatest moment was at the end of Follow That Bird "as he slowly walks into the sunset carrying Oscar". Bruno has demonstrated skills at rollerskating while also carrying Oscar in his can, in Here Come the Puppets!, a guest appearance on Hee Haw, Big Bird in Australia, and Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake. In the latter, Bruno surprised both Oscar (to his disappointment) and the humans (to their amazement) at how good of a skater he was.
There have been a number of instances where Bruno was shown not carrying a trash can. These include a scene in Follow That Bird where Bruno is in the crowd when the cast sets out to find Big Bird, in Episode 2495, and in The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years, noticeably during his brief cameo during the "Rainbow Connection" song.
After several years in storage, the puppet's foam disintegrated. Spinney later remarked in a live appearance that rebuilding the puppet would have been prohibitively expensive, and so the character was retired.
Years later, Episode 4621 (2016) features an appearance by a recycling man. Though not named directly, his physical appearance and profession suggest that the character is intended to be Bruno. In this iteration, he's made from a Pumpkin live hand Anything Muppet and performed by John Tartaglia.
- Sesame Street
- Here Come the Puppets!
- Follow That Bird
- The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years
- Sesame Street, Special
- Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake
- Episode 1259
- Episode 1262
- Episode 1301
- Episode 1313
- Episode 1541
- Episode 1564
- Episode 1586
- Episode 1612
- Episode 1614
- Episode 1616
- Episode 1663
- Episode 1732
- Episode 2495
- Episode 2537
- Episode 2595
- Episode 2667
- Episode 2681
- Episode 2737
- Episode 2746
- Episode 2795
- Episode 2797
- Episode 2836
- Episode 2837
- Episode 2840
- Episode 2952
- Episode 3083
- First Day of School (1982)
- More Who's Who on Sesame Street (1982)
- Ernie's Neighborhood (1987)
- Oscar's Grouchy Sounds (1990)
- From Trash to Treasure (1993)
- ↑ Spinney, Caroll. The Wisdom of Big Bird; New York: Villard, 2003 pp. 63-64.
- ↑ Spinney, Caroll Reddit "Ask me Anything" session with Caroll Spinney
- ↑ Spinney, Caroll. The Wisdom of Big Bird. New York: Villard, 2003, p 64.
- ↑ Gikow, Louise A. Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street; New York, NY: Black Dog and Leventhal, 2009, p. 48.
- ↑ Sesame Street at 40: A Night of Celebration with the Legendary Cast, January 30, 2009, Shea Center for the Performing Arts, William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ.