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Toby Towson is a gymnast (and former NCAA men's gymnastics champion) and dancer who did a stint on Sesame Street as the first performer of Barkley, in early episodes of season 10 and 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.
Through a personal friendship with the Henson family, Towson was hired to model for the building of a new full-body Muppet character that would debut in the tenth anniversary season of Sesame Street. According to Towson, the character was originally conceived as an ape-like creature that could do acrobatics, but as the costume was designed, the writers changed it to a large furry dog whose original name was "Woof-Woof." He was renamed Barkley in the season 10 premiere. Since Towson was comfortable in the costume, 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.