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Barkley tumblr.png
PERFORMER Toby Towson 1978
  Brian Muehl 1979-1984, 1988
  Fred Garbo 1984-1993
  Bruce Connelly 1993-present
DEBUT 1978
DESIGN Michael K. Frith designer
  Susan Moore builder

Barkley big.jpg
Barkley bird elmo.jpg

Barkley at the Great Wall in Big Bird in China.

Barkley nuzzles with Maria and the kids.

Woof Woof's original name tag when he first appeared in Episode 1177.

Concept sketch.

Brian Muehl rehearsing in the pared-down Barkley costume for Big Bird in China.

Barkley plays with Baby Elmo, in a Sesame Street Japan cellphone wallpaper, 2011.

Barkley is a full-bodied Muppet dog who appears on Sesame Street. Originally called Woof Woof when he made his debut in Episode 1177, he was named Barkley by the residents of Sesame Street in the premiere episode of the show's 10th season.

Barkley is energetic and playful, but is not anthropomorphized in the way that Rowlf and other characters are. While he may exhibit human-like emotions, he communicates only through barks, yelps, and physical contact. Barkley was initially a stray dog, frequenting Sesame Street from time to time, and, as noted in Episode 2156, even had another name on a different street block: Dudley. Eventually, he became Linda's pet (in Episode 2259) and understood the American Sign Language signs for "sit" and "stay." However, Barkley also had a close relationship with Big Bird. Indeed, in the 1993 book Imagine... Big Bird Meets Santa Claus, the large bird refers to Barkley as his dog. The book A Bird's Best Friend shows that Granny Bird brought Barkley as a puppy for a present for Big Bird. Although Linda has since moved on from Sesame Street, Barkley has remained, presumably becoming a ward of the community as a whole once again.

Barkley's appearances in television specials include the 1978 A Special Sesame Street Christmas and the 1979 A Walking Tour of Sesame Street. More prominently, he accompanied Big Bird on his trips to China in 1982 and Japan in 1988. He also appeared with the Muppets en masse on Night of 100 Stars. Additionally, from Season 12 (1980) through Season 23 (1992), the Sesame Street closing credits featured Barkley running through a park with the Kids.

After Season 32, Barkley ceased to be a regular character, but was still occasionally seen in new material. His most recent appearances on the show include cameos in "Riding My Tricycle," Elmo's World: Cats, and Episode 4214, with more prominent appearances in the premiere episode of season 40, and in Episode 4310. He has since been seen in animated form, including a "Monster Meditation" video (YouTube). According to writer Jennifer Capra, Barkley has not been seen on the show for some years because the puppet is in need of refurbishment.[1]

Behind the Scenes

The creation of Barkley traces to the early months of 1978,[2] when Jim Henson and Michael K. Frith were tasked with developing ideas for new Muppet characters to reinvigorate Sesame Street for its upcoming tenth season.[3] One of Frith's rejected character pitches, a living pile of trash that acted as a font of knowledge, would later become Marjory the Trash Heap for Fraggle Rock.[3] Original performer Toby Towson claimed, in a 2003 Wikipedia edit, that the full-bodied puppet character was initially conceived as an acrobatic ape, but was ultimately revised to a large furry dog. Barkley's (nΓ©e Woof-Woof's) debut appearances occurred at the tail end of season 9, in episodes 1177 and 1184; taped in early March 1978 and airing two months later.

According to Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street, the writers had created the character as a pretty savvy canine who knew how to count and had an almost human intelligence, but performer Brian Muehl thought that he should be portrayed like a regular dog.[4]

While inside Barkley, the performer wears stilts on both arms.[4] In order to make his mouth move, the performer must pull a trigger on one of its stilts to close the mouth, and tilt his head to make it open.[4]

Barkley was Brian Muehl's favorite character to perform, along with Telly Monster. According to him, the large canine "was the apogee of my mime roots and was pure visual puppetry."[5]

Notes

Filmography

Episodic appearances

Book appearances

Sources

  1. ↑ @genxistentialcrisis on TikTok July 1, 2021
  2. ↑ Falk, Karen. Imagination Illustrated. p. 114; Jim Henson's journal notes "Jan/Feb: Barkley - the Dog is being developed for Sesame Street - with Toby Towson"
  3. ↑ 3.0 3.1 Fraggle Rock: Complete Third Season bonus feature "How the Trash Heap Came to Be"
  4. ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Gikow, Louise Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street pages 92-93
  5. ↑ Personal communication with Brian Muehl, c. 2013. [1]
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