In Episode 2304 (1987), Hoots explains his career background to Athena through pictures hanging along one of the walls of Birdland. He first started out in a band called "The Rhythm School", where he got his first real gig. Later he worked at a classy nightclub, working with great artists that included his future wife (who closely resembles Athena). He then flew downtown where he got into jazz before finally settling on Sesame Street, where he jammed with his new band, the Birdland Players. In Episode 3110 (1993), Hoots recalls that he first broke into the jazz scene while working as a waiter in New Orleans.
Though Hoots was last used as a character in the late 2000s, he returned in 2019 for new productions associated with the show's 50th anniversary, performed now by Christopher Hayes. These appearances include the jazz concert A Swingin' Sesame Street Celebration: 50 Years & Counting and the primetime special, Sesame Street's 50th Anniversary Celebration.
Puppet and character evolution
The puppet used for Hoots made one of its earliest appearances, with a different performer, as the owl member of the Feathered Friends in Follow That Bird, and was the only member skeptical of Big Bird's sadness.
Hoots began appearing on Sesame Street in Season 16. Originally, the puppet had realistic owl-like eyes, as well as a moving eyelid mechanism, giving him more expression. The puppet was slightly redesigned for his 2001 return in Music Works Wonders with new orange eyes that look more generic and less owl-like, although they still featured moving eyelid mechanism, in addition to a moving feather brow. The pupils were also simplified, eliminating the original yellow ring that circled them.
In 2006, a new Hoots puppet was used when he was singing "It Feels Good When You Sing a Song" with John Legend. He has longer bright orange-brown feathers, his beak is bright yellow (and more flexible), and his toes are movable via glove-like holes. When Hoots returned in 2019, his vest was removed.
- John Tartaglia performed Hoots in the video Music Works Wonders to a pre-recorded track of Kevin Clash's voice for Hoots (with, unusually, credit for the role).
- According to a 2006 interview with TVGuide.com, Hoots is from Harlem.
- Kevin Clash based Hoots' voice on Louis Armstrong's voice.
- Follow That Bird
- The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years
- Sing Along
- Sesame Street Special
- Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting
- Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake
- Sesame Street Home Video Visits the Hospital
- Sesame Street Jam: A Musical Celebration
- Sesame Street Stays Up Late
- Elmo's Christmas Countdown
- Sesame Street's 50th Anniversary Celebration
- The Sesame Street ABC Book of Words (1988)
- Sesame Street 123 (1991)
- Sleep Tight! (1991)
- Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bug (1991)
- Grover's 10 Terrific Ways to Help Our Wonderful World (1992)
- The Sesame Street Book of Poetry (1992)
- Big Bird Meets the Orchestra (1993)
- Around the Corner on Sesame Street (1994)
- Sesame Street Stays Up Late (1995)
- Elmo's Lift-and-Peek Around the Corner Book (1996)
- The Bunny Hop (1997)
- Elmo's Tricky Tongue Twisters (1998)
- Spooky Sleep-out (2001)
- Animal Alphabet (2005)
- What Do You Hear, Dear? (2008)
- Imagine with Elmo (2011)
- Elmo's Rockin' Rhyme Time! (2012)