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Fay Ray

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The inimitable Fay Ray
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Fay, Battina, and Chundo

Fay Ray (1984 - 1995) was the Weimaraner dog most often used by photographer/filmmaker William Wegman in segments on Sesame Street.

Wegman, who had had success with his dog Man Ray from the 1970s until Man Ray's death in 1982, bought Fay, then known as "Cinnamon Girl", as a puppy in 1985. Wegman first began photographing Fay in 1986, and she made her screen debut in Wegman's 1986 short Dog Baseball.

In November 1987, Wegman was contacted by Sesame Street producer Arlene Sherman, who invited him to supply short films for the series. Fay was the natural choice to star. Wegman, in voice-over, would narrate and give instructions, and Fay would demonstrate everything from math skills to letter concepts. Beginning in 1993, Fay was joined by her three pups, all born in 1989: Batty (aka Battina), Crooky, and Chundo. This year introduced a number of sketches based on fairy tales and rhymes, and the "Farmer McFay" series (amongst the first in which the dogs' heads were posed over a man's arms and body, usually assistants Jason Burch or Andrea Beeman). Other segments, such as "ABC," let the dogs be dogs.

The dogs also starred in a series of Sesame Street sponsored videos, both compiling earlier sketches and new material, notably Alphabet Soup (1995) and Fay's Twelve Days of Christmas (1995). In the latter, Fay, in a wig and posed over an apron clad model, poses as a loving mother preparing Christmas meals and presents for her family.

In late spring of 1995, Fay suddenly contracted leukemia, and passed away at the age of 11 on June 7. Her children, however, have continued to appear on Sesame Street. Fay's grandson Chip is a more recent addition to the menagerie.

Sketch Segments

Picture Description
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Addition (EKA: Episode 2615)

Fay demonstrates addition by placing 3 balls on a table.

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Over and Under (EKA: Episode 2795)

Fay demonstrates "over" and "under".

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Walkman (EKA: Episode 3096)

Fay listens to a walkman.

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Waiter (EKA: Episode 3786)

The dogs show what a waiter's job is like.

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Clay (EKA: Episode 3979)

The dogs make things out of clay.

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J (EKA: Episode 3408)

The dogs form a J.

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Little Bo Peep (EKA: Episode 3525)

Batty as Little Bo Peep, seeking her sheep (three parts).


Video: William Wegman's Mother Goose

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K (EKA: Episode 3852)

The dogs form a K, as in King.

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To market, to market (EKA: Episode 3697)

The dogs play out the nursery rhyme.


Video: Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days

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Animal Disguises (EKA: Episode 3007)

Aping earlier photographs of Man Ray, Fay adisguises herself as various animals, including a ladybug, a moose, a green elephant, and a frog. Two girls, in voice-over, refer to the latter as "Kermit the Dog."

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Jack Sprat (EKA: Episode 4122)

Jack Sprat and his wife eating a meal.

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Subtraction (EKA: Episode 3094)

Fay demonstrates subtraction by removing blue balls from a table.

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Farmer McFay

A series of shorts in which Fay, posed in overalls over Jason Burch's arms, demonstrated numbers using fruits and vegetables from her crop. Chundo played her son.

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The McDoubles: Number 2

A subset of the "Farmer McFay" series, Fay's female pups Batty and Crooky are dressed in overalls joined at the waist.

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The McDoubles: Counting to 10

The McDoubles count to 10 with their fingers. (EKA: Episode 3281)

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Goldilocks

The dogs re-enact the classic tale, with Crooky in a wig as goldilocks, and the other three as the bears.

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Dog Alphabet

All four dogs form various letters, from A-Z. Later used, with new footage, in the video Alphabet Soup.

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Dog Numbers

Similar to the above, the dogs form the numbers 1-9.

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ABC

Fay demonstrates the first three letters of the alphabet by balancing letter blocks.

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Little Jack Horner

The nursery rhyme is recited with some help from the dogs.


Video: William Wegman's Mother Goose

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Little Miss Muffet

Crooky, in a wig as Little Miss Muffet, deals with a spider.


Video: William Wegman's Mother Goose

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Old King Cole (EKA: Episode 3664)

Chundo as Old King Cole.


Video: William Wegman's Mother Goose

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Peanut Butter (EKA: Episode 3740)

The dogs make a peanut butter sandwich.

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3

The dogs show the number 3 in a variety of poses.

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X

The dogs form an X, and Fay Ray gets an X-ray.

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Hairdresser

In a "Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?" segment, the dogs show the job of a hairdresser,

Credits

  • Director: William Wegman
  • Assistant Director: Andrea Beeman
  • Cameraman: Alan Cohen
  • Lights: Edgar Gil
  • Arm Models: Jason Burch, Andrea Beeman

Videos

References

Wegman, William. Fay. New York: Hyperion Books, 1999.

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