Bill Barretta (b. June 19, 1964) has been performing with the Jim Henson Company since 1991 and has become one of the leading Muppet performers.
Originally from Yardley, Pennsylvania, Barretta was trained at The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City as an actor and has appeared in the feature films Murder in the First and Born to Be Wild. He also worked as a carpenter before joining Henson. He met Brian Henson while they were both working at Sesame Place, and the younger Henson encouraged him to join the company.
His first break came performing the body of Earl Sinclair on Dinosaurs. From suit performance, Barretta transitioned to assisting and supporting roles in The Animal Show, playing multiple small character roles in Muppet Classic Theater and Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree, and made his film debut as a principal performer playing Clueless Morgan in Muppet Treasure Island. He later developed several new characters on Muppets Tonight, including Pepe the King Prawn, Johnny Fiama and Bobo the Bear.
Along with having his own Muppet characters, Barretta has taken over several of Jim Henson's roles, such as Dr. Teeth, Rowlf the Dog, Mahna Mahna and the Swedish Chef. On Sesame Street, Barretta originated the role of Elmo's dad Louie who first appeared in Sesame Beginnings (and was subsequently inherited by Tyler Bunch).
In addition, Barretta has served as a producer for It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and The Muppets' Wizard of Oz. He has also served as Muppet Captain on The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted. He also co-wrote the screenplay of the Creature Shop film Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (appearing on camera as Thunderdell).
Barretta directed a test pilot for the America's Next Muppet pitch and directed another presentation pilot featuring the Muppet in mock documentary style, focusing on the Muppets' efforts to launch a network television series. The second presentation pilot was written and produced by Bill Prady and featured puppetry by Barretta, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire and Eric Jacobson.
His brother, artist Gene Barretta, has worked on several Henson/Sesame Street projects
- Muppets Characters: Bobo the Bear, Big Mean Carl, one of the Elvises, Johnny Fiama, Pepe the King Prawn, Bubba the Rat, Zippity Zap, The Swedish Chef (1996-), Rowlf the Dog (1996-), Mahna Mahna (2001-), Lew Zealand (2002 and 2005), Dr. Teeth (2005-)
- Dinosaurs: Earl Sinclair (body)
- Muppets on Wheels
- The Animal Show: Armstrong, Dullard the Aardvark, right hand for Jake the Polar Bear; various guest animals including Bubba the Walrus, Dave the Human, Tommy the Thomson's Gazelle, Sly the Crocodile, Eugene the Hunting Dog, Randall the Zebra, Frankie the Wildebeest, Slick the Sea Lion, Guffrey the Vulture, Octavio the Octopus, Lamont the Sloth, Jared the Tiger, Rudy the Spider, Johnny the Wolf, Vernon the Grizzly Bear, Gabi the Gila Monster, Rocky the Bighorn Sheep, Humphrey the Badger, Lazlo the Hyena, Nemets the Ant, Travis the African Buffalo, Milton the Blue-Footed Booby, D'kembe the Gemsbok, Rudy the Roadrunner, Custer the Bison, Cornelius the Crab, Timothy the Owl, Paul the Pelican, Stanley the Mouse, Frankie the Crocodile, Mel the Lemur, Max the Wasp, Bart the Coyote, Galahad the Grasshopper Mouse, Larry the Fish, Charlie the Chamois, Julius the Spoonbill, Quincy the Flying Squirrel, Kyle the Secretary Bird and Malcolm the Lion; animal footage voice-overs
- Muppet Classic Theater: Elvis, Chief of Police ("Emperor's New Clothes")
- Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree
- Muppet Treasure Island: Clueless Morgan, Flaubert, Angel Marie, Mudwell the Mudbunny (Sailing for Adventure), Mr. Bitte, The Swedish Chef, Pigs; hands for Blind Pew
- Things That Fly: Balloon Salesman Whatnot, Pigs, Pilot, Commander Slick Space Guy
- Muppets Tonight: Pepe the King Prawn, Bobo the Bear, Johnny Fiama, Big Mean Carl, Zippity Zap, Elvises, Rowlf the Dog, The AL-1995 Plus Tax, Baby George, Carla the Big Mean Mom, David Hoggselhoff, Howard Tubman; hands for Dr. Phil Van Neuter
- The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss: Uncle Berklummer
- Muppets from Space: Pepe the Prawn, Bobo, Bubba the Rat, Johnny Fiama, Cosmic Fish #2, Lead-singing Alien Gonzo
- The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland: Additional performer
- Kermit's Swamp Years: Croaker, Horace D' Fly, Roy, Turtle #2
- It's A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie: Pepe the King Prawn, Johnny Fiama, The Swedish Chef, Lew Zealand, Rowlf the Dog, Bobo the Bear, Howard Tubman
- The Muppets' Wizard of Oz: Pepe the King Prawn, Johnny Fiama, Dr. Teeth, The Swedish Chef, Lew Zealand
- From the Balcony: Pepe the King Prawn, Rowlf the Dog, Bobo the Bear, The Swedish Chef, Johnny Fiama
- Sesame Beginnings: Louie
- Disney Xtreme Digital: Bigger Burger Drive Thru Man, Topo Sticky, Pickles
- Studio DC: Almost Live!
- A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa: Pepe, Swedish Chef, Rowlf, Dr. Teeth, Bobo, Husband Pigeon
- Families Stand Together
- Muppet viral videos
- The Muppets: Swedish Chef, Rowlf, Dr. Teeth, Pepe the Prawn, Bobo, Mahna Mahna, Muppet Gary, Behemoth, Hobo Muppet, Beautiful Day Monster, Singing Food in "Me Party"
- Muppets Most Wanted: Pepe the King Prawn, Rowlf the Dog, Dr. Teeth, The Swedish Chef, Bobo the Bear, Big Mean Carl, Baby Boss, Carlo Flamingo, Leprechaun Security Guard
- Muppet Moments: Pepe, Bobo, Rowlf
- The Muppets 2015 Presentation Pilot: Pepe the King Prawn, Swedish Chef, Dr. Teeth, Bobo, Rowlf
- The Muppets: Pepe the King Prawn, Bobo, Big Mean Carl, Swedish Chef, Rowlf, Dr. Teeth, Howard Tubman, Mahna Mahna, Bubba the Rat, Behemoth, Big Mean Carla
- The Muppets Take the Bowl: Pepe the King Prawn, Rowlf, The Swedish Chef, Dr. Teeth, Bobo, Mahna Mahna
- The Muppets Take the O2: Pepe the King Prawn, Rowlf, The Swedish Chef, Dr. Teeth, Bobo, Mahna Mahna
- Dinosaurs, "A New Leaf" - choreographer, with Leif Tilden, of "It's a Most Unusual Day"
- Long John Silver's commercials - director
- The Muppet Show Live - stage director
- Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story - co-writer
- It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie - producer
- Muppets' Wizard of Oz - producer
- Tinseltown - executive producer, writer, director
- A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa - Muppet captain
- The Muppets - associate producer, Muppet captain
- Muppets Most Wanted - co-producer, Muppet captain
- Muppet Moments - director
- "Pure Imagination" music video - consulting producer
- The Muppets, "Little Green Lie" - director
- Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, 2018 opening number - director
- He attended St. Mary's Hall in Burlington, New Jersey
- In addition to his puppeteering, Barretta has provided several episodic character voices on the Disney Channel animated series Kim Possible and performed the song "Jingle, Jang and Jive" for Disney's Christmas special Prep and Landing.
- Barretta met Jim Henson twice; once at Sesame Place, where he helped Henson find the automated characters, and later at his apartment.
- Rowlf talked about Barretta in 2011: "Bill Barretta? That name sure is familiar, but I can't quite place him...Oh, wait a second, is that the fellow who gives me a lift now and then? Sure! Great guy-funny, creative, and I can beat him at cards. What's not to like?"