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PERFORMER Richard Hunt 1972-1992
  Jennifer Barnhart 2003-present
DEBUT 1972

Gladys as a blooming flower in a Sesame Street pageant.

Richard Hunt and Gladys

Richard Hunt performing Gladys.


Gladys as she looked in the late '70s and '80s.


Gladys as she looked in the '90s.


The (fleeced) Gladys puppet during the show's 49th season.


An illustration by Tom Brannon of Gladys from the book The Day Snuffy Had the Sniffles.


In only one of her early appearances (Episode 0912), a black and white cow is used before permanently switching to the beige and brown-spotted puppet.

Gladys the Cow is the most famous of Sesame Street’s many cows. She is a rather self-obsessed bovine, aspiring to be a big star in acting, dancing, or singing, and has frequently been known to imitate or pretend to be other animals. However, her figure tends to clue people of not being the real thing. In spite of this, Gladys has appeared in local plays and productions, performing such roles as Sleeping Beauty, a seed-turned-to-flower, and (occasionally) a cow. In Episode 1071, she reveals that she used to live the same life as most regular cows, but is now an actress.

The puppet first appeared as a generic cow in season four. In the hands of Richard Hunt, the puppet began to take on an identity of its own, often appearing at random in sketches and street scenes to do various animal impressions and to demonstrate her singing chops. Hunt performed her as early as Episode 0419 (1972), as well as Episode 0497 (1973) where she's still a fairly generic cow who helps out a fellow bovine named Lola. By the time she appeared in a Sesame Street News Flash segment for the "Hickory Dickory Dock" nursery rhyme in Episode 0710 (1975), her personality was mostly formed with the characteristics she would become known for. An alternate cow puppet was used in the plotline of Episode 0912 (1976), while still performed by Hunt and retaining her budding personality. As late as Episode 1056 (1977), she was christened the name Gladys. Hunt based her voice in part on Kermit Love's theatrical way of speaking.[1]

Her signature song is "I'm Proud to Be a Cow." She was featured in some Sesame Street pageants, occasionally appeared with Buster the Horse, and had a cameo in Follow That Bird and the Monsterpiece Theater production of "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves" as one of the thieves. Gladys was initially retired from the show in 1992, after performer Richard Hunt's death.

Gladys returned to the ensemble supporting cast in Season 34, performed now by Jennifer Barnhart. In the season premiere, Episode 4031, Gladys tried to steal the show at the Hooper's Store karaoke night. Under Barnhart's tenure, Gladys has made minor recurring appearances since, including episodes 4085, 4157, and 4904.

A dramatically updated version of the puppet has been employed since 2016: The classic Sesame Street cow look defined by exposed, airbrushed foam, has been changed to the puppet being entirely covered by fleece, now contrasting her body with more pronounced dark brown spots over her light brown body.


  • On The Muppet Show, whenever Richard Hunt performed a cow, he would use the same voice as Gladys.
  • Even after Gladys the Cow became an established character, the puppet would appear occasionally as a generic cow played by various performers. The puppet has also been used for different named cows as late as Season 48. In the "Here Is Your Life" sketch which focuses on a loaf of bread, she is called Cora Cow. In a Sesame Street News Flash segment in which Old MacDonald spots a flying saucer, the farmer refers to her as Bessie. In Episode 4835, the puppet is used for Mrs. Moody (performed by Leslie Carrara-Rudolph).



Episodic appearances[]

AM cow
unnamed, but with Gladys' personality
named Gladys

Book appearances[]