Toby Towson is a gymnast (and former NCAA men's gymnastics champion) and dancer who did a stint performing Barkley, starting in A Special Sesame Street Christmas. Brian Muehl and others later took over the role. Towson has had a career in gymnastics, acrobatics, and dance.
Because of his personal friendship with the Henson family, Towson was tapped to model for the building of a new Sesame Street character which would debut for the tenth anniversary season of Sesame Street. At first the costume was going to be an ape-like creature which could do acrobatics. As the costume was created however, the writers decided to make it into a large furry dog whose original name was "Woof-Woof." It was changed to Barkley after the first few appearances on the show. Since Towson was comfortable in the costume, and it fit him, Henson offered him a one year contract to be on call for Children's Television Workshop, and Towson appeared as Barkley for several months until Muehl took over.
As of 2003, Towson is living with his wife, Kathryn Talbott, in Boonsboro, Maryland. He has a B.A. in Psychology from Michigan State University and a Masters in Education from University of Maryland.