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.
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|
| 8 |
| 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 |
| 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.
| Air |
| 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!"
| U |
| 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 |
| Lefty holds a letter R, and Ernie holds a letter P. |
Spinney plays Lefty in this sketch.
| Stop Sign |
| Lefty tries to sell Ernie a stop sign.
| ME Sign |
|Lefty attempts to sell a "ME" sign to Ernie.|
| Picture of Four Elephants |
|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.|
| Scale |
| 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.
| Invisible Ice Cream Cone |
| 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.|
- The Sesame Street Storybook, frontispiece only (1971)
- Sesame Street Finger Puppets (1971)
- The Sesame Street ABC Storybook (1974)
- Big Bird's Busy Book (1975)
- Grover's Little Red Riding Hood (1976)
- The Sesame Street Dictionary (1980)
- The Sesame Street Storybook Alphabet (1980)
- In & Out, Up & Down (1982)
- Storybook ABCs (2008)