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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 the loving father of Elmo and husband of 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. In the 2010 video When Families Grieve, which occurs after the passing of Louie's brother Jack, Louie explains Jack's death to Elmo, and he forges a connection with his niece Jesse.

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). He has also appeared in animated form for COVID-19 pandemic segments released in India and South Africa.

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 Louie for most of his appearances from 2006 through 2010's When Families Grieve. Barretta was not always available to perform, being based on the West Coast and busy with other projects, so Tyler Bunch filled in as Louie on at least three occasions during the former's tenure; the videos Learning is Everywhere, Bedtime with Elmo, and in two short scenes for Talk, Listen, Connect: Homecomings. Barretta eventually relinquished the role to Bunch, who assumed performing Louie full-time starting with 2011's Elmo's Travel Songs and Games.[3]

Prior to being established as Louie, Kevin Clash voiced Elmo's dad on the audio track "Are We There Yet?" for the album Sing-Along Travel Songs.


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).


  • In a February 1, 2024 appearance on Today, Elmo says Louie helps with his @elmo Twitter account, "because Elmo can't read or write." Louie says, "I kinda run it for him."[4]


See also[]

External links[]