PERFORMER Bill Barretta 2006-2010
  Tyler Bunch 2007-present
DEBUT 2006

Louie fashioned a mustache when Elmo was a baby in the Sesame Beginnings series of videos.

Elmo dad450

Louie sans-mustache and Elmo, in Talk Listen Connect.

Mae and Louie

Louie and his wife, Mae.

Father's Day Louie

Elmo making a Father's Day present for Louie.

Louie is a loving caregiver to his son, Elmo, and husband to Mae. While Elmo had been a major character on Sesame Street for twenty years, his parents were never seen on the show until 2006.

Louie first appeared on-screen in the Sesame Beginnings direct-to-video series, as a stay-at-home dad and the primary caregiver to his infant son. (Sesame Beginnings takes place in a fictional "past" when the characters were babies, which we can assume in Elmo's case is about three years earlier than the Sesame Street "present".) Louie plays the saxophone, and fills Baby Elmo's daily routine with rhythm. He organizes a baby band with Elmo's play group.

Flash-forward to the present for Sesame Workshop's direct-to-video special for military families, Talk, Listen, Connect. In this 2006 special, Louie has joined the military, and is deployed far away. The special doesn't explicitly state that Louie is in the military; instead, it's explained that Louie is away "working" and "helping people". Elmo's mom Mae helps Elmo to understand why his father is away, and uses a daily routine to help Elmo cope with the separation.

Louie's appearance was changed after the initial Sesame Beginnings releases, starting with Talk, Listen, Connect and continuing in the later Beginnings DVDs (such as Exploring Together). Louie's new look included a different hair style, facial hair changes (a goatee rather than a mustache), and a new wardrobe. However the older, mustached, Louie design was seen in Elmo's Potty Time.

While originally limited to these video and outreach projects, Louie began making recurring appearances on Sesame Street itself starting in season 47.

Louie is seen internationally in the Indian-produced series I Heart Elmo (2018).

Performer history

Louie is the only major Sesame Street character to have been performed by Bill Barretta, who based his voice on Louis Prima.[1][2] Barretta played the character from his first appearances in 2006 through the direct-to-video special When Families Grieve in 2010. During Barretta's tenure, Tyler Bunch performed Louie in the videos Learning is Everywhere and Bedtime with Elmo. Bunch assumed the role full-time starting with 2011's Elmo's Travel Songs and Games.


Book appearances

Old design

New design

Alternate incarnations


Sleep Tight!


Elmo's dad had been seen in a number of books, and like Grover's Mommy, his appearance varied widely according to the artist. In such titles as Elmo Gets Homesick and When Is My Birthday?, Elmo's dad resembles an adult version of Elmo. However, in the more recent illustrations and books, the character holds true to the current Louie, as seen in Sesame Beginnings.

Elmo's World


The way Elmo's parents look in the mind of a goldfish.

The first incarnation of Elmo's dad to be seen on television was in the "Birthdays" episode of "Elmo's World," in which Dorothy imagines Elmo on the day of his birth in a dream sequence. As with all such "Elmo's World" sequences, all of the characters are seen from Dorothy's point of view -- that is, as an altered version of Elmo. In this incarnation, Elmo's parents look just like Elmo and are referred to as George and Gladys (named after the parents of Elmo's puppeteer Kevin Clash).


  1. Facebook comment by Gene Barretta, June 11, 2019
  2. The Barretta Brothers: Two of Us Show #16 (00:15:49)

See also

External links

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