PERFORMER Caroll Spinney
DEBUT 1978
DESIGN Caroll Spinney
BRUNO Carroll

Caroll Spinney inside the costume


The recycling man (Episode 4621)


Bruno on rollerskates in Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake.


Bruno joins Oscar and Slim Pickens on Hee Haw in 1981.


A rare instance where Bruno does not carry a trash can. (Episode 2495)

Bruno the Trashman is a sanitation engineer on Sesame Street who acts as personal chauffeur to Oscar the Grouch.

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.[1] Spinney could see through where the characters eyes would have been.[2]

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 in Here Come the Puppets!, 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".[3] Bruno has demonstrated skills at rollerskating while also carrying Oscar in his can, in both Here Come the Puppets! 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.[4] Spinney later remarked in a live appearance[5] 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.


Episodic Appearances

Book appearances


  1. Spinney, Caroll. The Wisdom of Big Bird; New York: Villard, 2003 pp. 63-64.
  2. Spinney, Caroll Reddit "Ask me Anything" session with Caroll Spinney
  3. Spinney, Caroll. The Wisdom of Big Bird. New York: Villard, 2003, p 64.
  4. Gikow, Louise A. Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street; New York, NY: Black Dog and Leventhal, 2009, p. 48.
  5. 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.