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Lefty the Salesman

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Lefty with a mustache.

Lefty is a shady-looking salesman in a trench coat who appears on Sesame Street. He speaks in a whispery voice, and usually tries to sell Ernie such esoteric items as a letter U or O, an invisible ice cream cone, and an empty box. His sales pitches are rarely successful.

In some of his early appeareances, Lefty had slightly hidden angry eyebrows, thus giving him a mean look, but the eyebrows were removed in later sketches.

Although Lefty was primarily performed by Frank Oz, Caroll Spinney played Lefty in at least two segments from Season 1.

Some of Lefty's sketches involved his attempts to carry out assignments from his boss. For these sketches, see Sesame Street Gangsters.

Lefty's boss is the only character who refers to him as "Lefty"; in CTW production materials and Sesame Street merchandise, such as storybooks and record albums, he has usually been referred to simply as "The Salesman."

A 2008 book, Storybook ABCs, is the first use of Lefty's name in print. Grover is dressed as Jack (of "Beanstalk" fame), and the Salesman approaches from behind a tree with an offer: "Care for some candy beans for that cow?" Jack replies, "Thanks, Lefty! And do you also have a candlestick?" Lefty apparently has one in stock -- a few pages later, Jack (of "Jack Be Nimble" fame) jumps over the candlestick. At the end of the book, Lefty returns to feed four and twenty blackbirds with birdseed that fills his carry-all bag.


Picture Summary / EKA Description
Episode 0079
Lefty wants to sell a number 8 to Ernie, who ran out of money buying some number 9s. Ernie then offers to sell Lefty his number 9s.
Empty box
Episode 0081
Lefty wants to sell Ernie an empty box, explaining that he can fill the box with things, such as a pet mouse (if Ernie had one) and jellybeans (if they rained from the sky). Ernie wants an empty box, but doesn't have any money. However, Bert brings a box of cookies. Ernie dumps the cookies so he can catch jellybeans from the sky.
Episode 0118
Lefty sells Ernie some air, but when Ernie waves to Bert, wanting to show it to him, he drops it. According to Bert (who didn't know what Ernie had), "It couldn't have vanished into thin air." But Ernie sobs, "Yes, it could, Bert! It could!"
Episode 0126
Lefty tries to sell a letter U, which he claims to have had in his family for years. The U is actually a string tied to two poles. However, Ernie already has a U, but when he says that yesterday he could have used a V, Lefty stretches out the U's bottom to turn it into a V.
Caroll Spinney (instead of Frank Oz) performed Lefty in this skit.
P and R
Episode 0129
Lefty holds a letter R, and Ernie holds a letter P.
Spinney plays Lefty in this sketch.
Stop Sign
Episode 0179
Lefty tries to sell Ernie a stop sign.
ME Sign
Episode 0232
Lefty attempts to sell a "ME" sign to Ernie.
Picture of Four Elephants
Episode 0278
Lefty wants to sell Ernie a picture of a tree, which he says is actually a picture of four elephants. Ernie doesn't see the four elephants, so Lefty offers to show him the elephants if Ernie will buy the picture for a nickel. Lefty points out the elephants, which are actually spaces in the tree's branches. Ernie then pays for the picture. Ernie wants to pull the same trick on Bert, but Bert notices the elephants right away.
Online: (
Hulu (Hulu)
SesameStreet's YouTube Channel (YouTube)
Episode 0291
Lefty wants to sell Ernie a scale. He uses two pounds of bananas and two pounds of apples to demonstrate how the scale works. Ernie is impressed, but he already has a scale at home. However, he wants to buy the apples and bananas.
--beginning edited
Invisible Ice Cream Cone
Episode 0867
Lefty sells Ernie an invisible ice cream cone. Ernie pays for it with an invisible nickel.
Snowman Lefty wants to sell Ernie a snowman, but it keeps melting.

Alphabet Lefty enters and exits the frame, each time revealing a letter of the alphabet from inside his coat.



Book appearances

See also

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