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The first sketches of Elmo reveal that he was initially intended to have a wider face, in comparison to the other monster pictured (Kermit the Forg).


Elmo sings along in Elmopalooza.


Elmo with his pet goldfish, Dorothy.

Elmo Family

Elmo with his mom and dad.

Elmo Loves You

Elmo and Kermit


"Elmo's Song"


Zoe and Elmo


Elmo and Kevin Clash on Rove Live


A green Elmo and Abby Cadabby in Being Green

Early elmo

Elmo is a furry red Muppet monster with an orange nose. He is self-described as 3-and-a-half years old, and refers to himself almost entirely in the third person.[1] The character proved to be immensely popular with toddlers that in 1998, he was given his own full segment on Sesame Street, called "Elmo's World." Currently, a new Elmo-centered segment titled "Elmo the Musical" airs in its place.

As with many children of his age, he is seen somewhat infrequently with a favorite toy of his: an orange monster-like doll named David. Elmo lives in an apartment on Sesame Street with his mother Mae, his father Louie, and, in some storybooks, a sister named Daisy.

Early years

The puppet that would eventually become Elmo has been around since the early 1970s. During this time, he was referred to on the set as "Baby Monster," and had a number of performers ranging from Caroll Spinney[2] to Jerry Nelson[3] for background scenes.

Elmo first appeared on Sesame Street specifically as "Elmo" in Season 12[4] where he was performed by Brian Muehl. After Muehl's departure in 1984, the character was briefly re-cast to Richard Hunt, who performed Elmo with a gruff caveman voice and a rowdy persona. Hunt was not comfortable with performing Elmo, and felt the character was not working. One day, frustrated with the role, Hunt came into the show's green room and literally tossed the puppet to Kevin Clash and asked what he could get out of it.[5] Clash gave Elmo his recognizable falsetto, and while trying to find a "hook" for the character, decided that Elmo should embody love. Clash said, "I knew that Elmo should represent love - just kissing and hugging."[6] Clash cites a season 17 scene in which Elmo packs for an imaginary vacation as the moment when he "found his voice" as Elmo.[7] Writer David Korr took a liking to the character, and backed up with positive research, started utilizing Elmo regularly.[5]


A popular doll called the Tickle Me Elmo was manufactured in his likeness, and became the must-have toy during the 1996 Christmas season. A tenth anniversary edition, T.M.X. Elmo, was released in 2006. Other Elmo toys include Hokey Pokey Elmo ("Hokey Cokey Elmo" in the U.K.), Limbo Elmo, Chicken Dance Elmo, Let's Pretend Elmo, and Elmo Live.

Elmo was the star of the full-length, theatrically released motion picture The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. He also made minor appearances in Follow That Bird, the wedding scene in The Muppets Take Manhattan, and A Muppet Family Christmas.

Elmo can be seen in the home videos Elmo's Sing-Along Guessing Game, The Best of Elmo, Elmocize, and Elmo Visits the Doctor, and has also appeared in many other videos, including Play-Along Games and Songs, We All Sing Together and A Celebration of Me, Grover. Elmo has also starred in specials such as Elmopalooza and The Street We Live On. For a whole list of appearances of Elmo in videos, click here.

Kermit Love felt he knew part of the character's reason for success: "Elmo is popular because Elmo is red."[8]

Behind the scenes

There are either eight or nine Elmo puppets currently available. Kevin Clash told Channel Newsasia that "this one [on my lap] is rodded. There's a full radio-controlled Elmo, there's one for the blue screen, etc. They do different things."[9] In later years, there has been a live-hand variant of Elmo, used in episodes like episode 4206 and specials like Elmo's World: Happy Holidays!

Additionally, dozens of Elmo variants have been created by the Muppet Workshop (now, Jim Henson's Puppet Workshop) almost exclusively for use in Tickle Me Land as figments of Dorothy's imagination. These creations build on the basic premise of the Elmo puppet, to create a unique design which displays a variation of Elmo as anything from a rock to an elephant, to even a male doctor and female nurse.

At the Muppets, Music & Magic event at The Cinema Arts Centre in August 2007, Elmo joked that the reason he speaks in the third person is that he gets paid for each time he says "Elmo."

Elmo tweeted about his third person speaking in March 2010; "Someone just told Elmo yesterday was Talk in Third Person Day. Elmo doesn't know what that is but it sounds fun. Can Elmo play?"

When appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Elmo sang a few lines of a Jennifer Hudson song, only after realizing he sang the word "me".

At The Paley Center for Media screening of Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, a member of the audience asked him why he spoke in third person. Elmo (after jokingly threatening the audience member) replied that "it's just the way Elmo talks."

At another screening at the Museum for the Moving Image, Elmo was asked what it was like to work with Richard Hunt, to huge response from the audience. He recollected "It was TORTURE! ...Elmo doesn't like opera! Elmo doesn't like tuna fish sandwiches and Schweppes Ginger Ale. Elmo doesn't like any of those things! But for some reason, when he was working Elmo, Elmo was motivated to love those things."[10]

Elmo's CinderElmo co-star French Stewart lists the three year old monster's acting talents behind only Pacino, Brando and Streep, while Oliver Platt says he is a "giving actor."

Video appearances

Sesame Street:

The Muppets:


  • On Big Bag, he made a guest appearance in one episode, as Chelli's pen-pal.
  • Elmo's earliest illustrated appearance was in The Sesame Street Circus of Opposites.
  • For the 2005/2006 season, Sesamstraat moved into new scenery. The scenery was introduced with a TV special. Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster and Elmo flew over to Holland for this special occasion. It was the first time the American characters visited the Dutch street.
  • According to Ask Elmo, his favorite food is wasabi; that's why he has no eyelids. This is confirmed on Rove Live and in interviews.[10] In 2000, he told Donnie and Marie Osmond that his mother and father tell him to never "hate" any food, but he makes an exception for Brussels sprouts, Marie decides to taunt him with a bowl of them.
  • The meaning of life to Elmo? He stated that: "Um, the meaning of life for Elmo is respecting your elders by saying Mr. And Ms. and saying thank you and also giving lots of loves and kisses. That's the meaning of life for Elmo."[11]
  • He is 24 inches tall, when measured in 2011 by guest Drew Brees.[12]
  • An Elmo cameo was written for The Muppets, but both Jason Segel and Nick Stoller explained that it would've been too expensive.[13][14]
  • Elmo's birthday is on February 3rd.


  1. On a few occasions, Elmo's dialogue has broken this rule such as in song or via indirect comments.
  2. Brooklyn Academy of Music discussion panel—BAM! Nov 20-21, 2004: NYC
  3. "We Are All Monsters" and the Monsterpiece Theater sketch "Me Claudius"
  4. Season 12 Press Kit, CTW Archives
  5. 5.0 5.1 Wisconsin Public Television podcast
  6. Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey
  7. 40 Years of Sunny Days
  8. Annie Evans, "The Elmo Phenomenon", Sesame Family Robinson, 27 February 2011.
  9. Elisa Chia, "Meet the grown-up behind Elmo", 31 July 2006.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Kevin Clash with Elmo at 'Being Elmo' Screening September 25, 2011
  11. Ask Elmo.
  12. Measure, Word of the Day segment, Sesame Street.
  13. Exclusive: On the Set of the New Muppets Movie, Stein, Joel, Time
  14. Jason Segel Says New Muppet Character Walter 'Was Born In My Brain', Ryan

See also

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