Character.snuffy
PERFORMER Jerry Nelson 1971-1978
  Michael Earl 1978-1981
  Martin P. Robinson 1981-present
DEBUT 1971
Bird and Snuffy

Snuffy with his best friend "Bird."

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FollowThatBird-BestFriendsHug

Mr. Snuffleupagus is a full-bodied Muppet character who lives with his family in a cave just off of Sesame Street. Snuffleupagus is his species as well as his last name.

His full name is Aloysius Snuffleupagus, although his friends call him Snuffy. He is eternally 4 and a half years old,[1] and celebrates his birthday on August 19. Snuffy's best friend is Big Bird, whom he affectionately calls "Bird." His favorite foods are cabbage and spaghetti. In the fifth season premiere, he revealed that he also drinks sassafras tea. He has a little sister named Alice and a friend named Rosalyn.

Mr. Snuffleupagus first appeared on Sesame Street in episode 0276, the third season premiere. When he first appeared, many of the adults assumed that he was Big Bird's imaginary friend, due to a series of coincidences and near-miss encounters that continually kept Snuffleupaguses and humans apart. Big Bird would often try to find ways for Snuffy to meet the adults, but something would always cause Snuffy to leave before the humans could see him. Sometimes, all it would take for the adults to see Mr. Snuffleupagus would be to turn their heads, yet they usually wouldn't do so until Snuffy had already gone.

Various kids could see Mr. Snuffleupagus, some Muppets saw him, and even a few celebrities (including Judy Collins, in a fantasy sequence) saw him, but the major human characters never believed his existence until episode 2096 in 1985.

Mr. Snuffleupagus became real to the entire cast for a few reasons. One was because the writers were running out of new ways to have Snuffy just barely miss meeting them. Another factor was increased concerns that the adults' refusal to believe Big Bird's claims of his friend's existence would discourage children from sharing important things with their parents.[2]

It takes two people to perform Mr. Snuffleupagus. The person who performs the front also performs the voice. Jerry Nelson was the first to play the character. Most sources (including Sesame Street Unpaved and Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street) state that back problems caused by the physical stress of the performance forced him to bow out, but in a 2009 interview Jerry Nelson gave a different explanation for giving up the role: "I was not loath to give that character up. But the reasons for giving it up were because at that time we were doing The Muppet Show and he was a real part of the show, and they needed his presence. So they asked if I’d mind giving it up."[3] Michael Earl Davis took over for three seasons (1978–1981[4]), before Marty Robinson became the permanent voice and face of Snuffy. The back of Mr. Snuffleupagus has been performed by Richard Hunt, Brian Muehl, Frank Kane, and Peter Friedman, but since 1979, the regular back-end has been Bryant Young.

Jerry Nelson recalled in the film Muppet Guys Talking that in casting for Snuffleupagus, Jon Stone described the character as "Eeyore-like." Hence, Snuffy originally spoke in a low, sad-sounding tone of voice, which was gradually lightened over time, and his catchphrase was "Ohhh, dear." In the early years of Snuffy's Sesame Street appearances, his entrances were scored by a low-range brass musical cue (composed by Joe Raposo)[5] which could be heard by those who could see him (Big Bird explains to Mrs. Sharp in Episode 0965 that when Snuffy walks, he makes a musical sound). A modified version of this theme appeared on various Sesame Street albums, and was the basis for Snuffy's song-and-dance "Doin' the Snuffleupagus."

Mr. Snuffleupagus' Family

Character.uncleabe

Uncle Abe, with Big Bird and Snuffy.

Mr. Snuffleupagus lives with his family in a cave located at 456 Snuffle Circle.

In 1992, the producers of Sesame Street tested an episode in which Snuffy's parents get a divorce. After a series of arguments, Daddy Snuffle moved out of the cave, and Snuffy and Alice had to deal with the emotional fallout of a breakup. The episode didn't test well with children, and the producers decided to shelve it. In the context of the show, Mommy and Daddy Snuffleupagus are still married. For more information, see "Snuffy's Parents Get a Divorce".

Notable Events

Snuffymountain

Snuffy in front of the mythical Mount Ihu Papa'a Lo'ihi Nui, aka Mount Snuffleupagus.

Notes

Firstsnuffy

Big Bird first encounters Mr. Snuffleupagus, from the third season premiere. (close-up eye detail)

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Cloud02

Snuffy sings "If I Was a Cloud in the Sky."

Snuffy stored

Snuffy is too large to store anywhere other than hung from the ceiling.

Snff
  • Some early scripts written with the character in them originally referred to Snuffy as "Galopogus".[6]
  • The original Mr. Snuffleupagus puppet had bright yellow eyes, immobile eyelids, and yellow eyelashes. He was redesigned in Season 4, gaining white eyes, eyelids, and eyelashes, to look more like he does today.
  • In one episode during his debut season, it is revealed that Snuffy is afraid of fruit. He dislikes apples because he fears they might fall from the tree and hit him on the head, and he dislikes bananas out of fear that he might slip on the peels.
  • Because the Snuffy costume is so enormous, the suit is stored above the studio soundstage, with a pink blanket wrapped over it, when not in use. During the filming of the Hawaii episodes, the costume was maneuvered to different locations using a helicopter.
  • Starting with Episode 1966, Maria, Gordon, and Linda all decided to believe that he was real despite the lack of evidence (though Maria had shown signs of believing in him in Episode 1836, when upon hearing he was by Big Bird's nest, she decided to go through Big Bird's doors to see, only to be stopped by Olivia on the grounds that she needed to go, and almost waited with Big Bird for Snuffy to finish the race), while Uncle Wally initially believed that he was real, claiming to have encountered various Snuffleupaguses over the course of his travels.
  • Martin Robinson once said about Snuffy, "He's not invisible, he just has bad timing!"[7]
  • His shoe size (or at least his roller skate size) is 65 triple G.
  • The Snuffy puppet and his facial movements are operated entirely from within the puppet. There is a long stick that moves his eyes around, a long string to pull down his eyelids, and a handle to pull down the lower part of his mouth, as the size of his mouth makes it practically impossible for a puppeteer to operate it like a normal puppet. The interior was first publicly shown in the Sesame Family Robinson blog post "HandyMan in Snuffleupagus". In another post, Martin P. Robinson explained that in between takes, one of the cameramen fan air through the mouth of the puppet to cool off the puppeteers. Robinson also explained it was a lot easier to perform the puppet when it was warm as he was less likely to pull muscles, although on some days he would go through 3 or 4 t-shirts.
  • The Snuffy puppet was once used as Señor Snuffalupago, Snuffy's cousin from Mexico. The puppet was given a fifty-pound sombrero that, during taping of a scene, broke the framework inside, causing the puppet to collapse onto the performers. Luckily, no one was hurt, and the puppet was rebuilt within twenty minutes.
  • Snuffy gets weighed in Episode 1606 and discovers he weighs 1,000 pounds.
  • While Snuffy served as the show's resident incredulous figure for years, other characters had alleged imaginary friends of their own. Mr. Hooper reminisces about "Mr. Meshuggenah" in Episode 0513, Big Bird accuses David of manufacturing his childhood friend Bill in Episode 1140, Snuffy describes his friend the Wheelermonster in Episode 0806 (whom Big Bird believes to be made-up), and, until she met him in Episode 1494, Mommy Snuffleupagus originally thought Big Bird to be Snuffy's imaginary friend.

Near Misses

0343 03a

Dr. Marzullo can't believe her eyes.

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Snuffy is given a gentler appearance in 1972.

1800-9

Maria finds Snuffy's huge toaster left at the Fix-It Shop.

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Snuffy bts
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Snuffy and Big Bird try to give the arbor a more tropical feel on a cold winter day, from Episode 1624.

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Snuffy marathon

Before his existence was revealed to the grown-ups on Sesame Street, there were many instances when the adults almost saw Mr. Snuffleupagus, only to just barely miss him. Some even heard him talk, but thought they were imagining things. Here are some of the many close encounters between Mr. Snuffleupagus and others.

  • Episode 0323 — Big Bird takes a picture of Mr. Snuffleupagus, but when he shows the picture to the adults, they think that they're looking at an old rug and a furry rope.
  • Episode 0343 — Snuffy asks for a balloon from Dr. Marzullo resulting in a brief conversation in which she doesn't look at the source of the inquisitor. After a few moments, the doctor turns to deliver the balloon and stares Snuffy straight in the face, immediately falling silent with her mouth agape. When she's subsequently encountered by Tom and Susan, the woman with a doctorate remains nearly speechless, unable to communicate what she's just experienced. Succumbing to her assumed delusion, she resolves to return home for a nice, long rest.
  • Episode 0415Jay, who had been one of "the kids" (who could traditionally see Snuffy) on the show, but aged to 13 by season 4 (no longer a "kid" but not quite an adult yet), features in a Street story in which he admonishes Snuffy for throwing his garbage on the ground. When Snuffy produces an enormous trash can, the neighborhood asks where it came from. Jay tells them it belongs to the Snuffleupagus, but nobody believes him.
  • Episode 0536 — Big Bird and the adults play a game of Follow the Leader. Big Bird wants them to wait for Mr. Snuffleupagus to arrive, but they refuse to wait, thinking that otherwise, they'll never play. After they start playing, Mr. Snuffleupagus shows up and takes the last place in line. David is the leader, and tells everyone to close their eyes, which causes them to miss Snuffy. Snuffy gets tired and leaves before the game is over.
  • Episode 0663 — Big Bird brings Mr. Snuffleupagus to wake a tired Luis by blowing his snuffle like a trumpet. After a few tries, Luis trudges through some repairs while half asleep and finishes his work. As Snuffy leaves, Big Bird asks Luis if he's going to thank him, but Luis says there's no such thing as a Snuffleupagus.
  • Episode 0664Grover makes his Safety Monitor rounds outside Big Bird's nest where he finds a big mound of brown, shaggy fur blocking the door. He walks around to Big Bird who's playing checkers with Mr. Snuffleupagus and explains the situation. When Snuffy gets up so they can inspect the door, he moves out of the way and Big Bird doesn't see a blocked door. Snuffy sits back down, and when Grover makes his way around the front again, he's sees the door blocked as before. He explains his frustration to Gordon and Maria who accompany him to see what's going on, but when he returns, Big Bird says they finished the game of checkers and Snuffy went home. Grover pauses and tells Big Bird that he has some imagination.
  • Episode 0746 — Mr. Snuffleupagus attempts to introduce himself to Mr. Hooper. Unfortunately, Mr. Hooper is wearing headphones and reading the newspaper, so he can't see or hear Snuffy. Big Bird comes in and finds Snuffy taking a nap next to Mr. Hooper, but Mr. Hooper still insists that there's no such thing as a Snuffleupagus.
  • Episode 0796 — Mr. Snuffleupagus walks down Sesame Street, counting the number of people who don't see him -- including Susan, Gordon, Mr. MacIntosh, Cookie Monster (who gets his head stuck inside a bag of cookies), Bob, David, Maria, Mr. Hooper (who loses his glasses when Snuffy walks in front of him), Willy, and Luis (who holds a stack of boxes that block his vision).
  • Episode 0807 — Mr. Snuffleupagus comes to Sesame Street wearing black-and-white overalls. Bob has dozed off on the stoop and wakes up just as Snuffy is leaving. Bob gets a glimpse of Snuffy as he's waking up. However, when Bob tells Big Bird about seeing the Snuffleupagus, he mentions the black and white stripes, and Big Bird thinks Bob must have been imagining things.
  • Episode 0858 — Mr. Hooper has lost his glasses again. Groping around for them, he feels Snuffy's fur, but he thinks that he's touching the furry scarf that Maria lost.
  • Episode 1131 — Big Bird takes the adults to a location to meet Snuffy. While in front of a fountain, Big Bird spots Snuffy behind a fountain in the distance and tells the adults to turn around, but the adults initially refuse and laugh at the situation. When they finally decide to turn around, the fountain turns on and the water obstructs their view of Snuffy. They all then walk away before the fountain water turns off.
  • Episode 1186David thinks he hears Big Bird talking to Mr. Snuffleupagus about going to the movies. He convinces the other adults to come to Big Bird's nest. When they get there, Snuffy is gone, and they assume David was playing them for a sap.
  • Episode 1297 — Snuffy sleeps over at Big Bird's nest, but ends up sleepwalking, with a white sheet over him. Susan and Bob see him and wonder what he is. The next morning, Big Bird tells them about how Snuffy slept over and was sleepwalking, and they figure it was Snuffy until they incorrectly mention him being white.
  • Episode 1496 — Snuffy approaches Linda, looking the other way, and tries to get her attention by talking to her, unaware that she is deaf. After Big Bird informs him that she's deaf, Big Bird tries to get her to meet Snuffy, only for Snuffy to run off to learn some sign language. After learning sign language, Big Bird tries to get Linda and Timi to meet Snuffy, only for Snuffy to leave after realizing he forgets certain signs.
  • Episode 1498 - Big Bird sleeps over at Bob's and tries to surprise him by bringing Snuffy along too. Bob heads off to shower just as Snuffy arrives, then Snuffy remembers he forgot to say goodnight to his mommy and leaves just before Bob can meet him. Later, Snuffy arrives just as Bob has fallen asleep and the latter (unknowingly) cuddles with Snuffy's snuffle. Once again, Snuffy is unable to stay long enough for Bob to wake up and meet him.
  • Episode 1659 — Big Bird's latest scheme to prove Mr. Snuffleupagus' existence is to show them a picture of him. Because of Snuffy's large size, he had to take the picture in various increments and pieces together the parts with Jessica. As he goes to get someone to show it to, Snuffy wanders in and finds the photo. He thinks his mommy would like to see it and borrows it, leaving a large note behind. Big Bird brings Gordon over, where they see the picture is gone and only the note. Big Bird is certain Snuffy will return and convinces Gordon to sit and wait with him. Later, Gordon goes to Hooper's Store after Snuffy has been a no-show. The store phone rings with a call from Mommy Snuffleupagus. Mr. Hooper is taken aback at first, but believes it's merely a voice Big Bird is doing. Big Bird himself enters the store and tends to the call himself. Mommy Snuffle informs Big Bird that she wants to keep the photo of her darling son in the living room of their home. The situation leaves Gordon and Mr. Hooper speechless.
  • Episode 1800 — Snuffy takes his broken toaster to the Fix-It Shop. He speaks with Maria, who's too busy to look up; she tells her customer to leave the toaster for her. When she looks up, she's amazed to find a Snuffleupagus-sized toaster. Maria shows Olivia the huge toaster, and wonders if she spoke to Mr. Snuffleupagus. Olivia thinks that Big Bird must be playing a trick. They wait to see if Snuffy comes back to pick up the toaster -- but Big Bird comes for it instead; Snuffy asked him to pick up the toaster for him.
  • Episode 1836Forgetful Jones appears at a water station for the New York City marathon. Snuffy gets some water from Big Bird. When Bob comes by a moment later, Forgetful Jones forgets all about his meeting with Snuffy.
  • Episode 1943 — Snuffy brings Fluffy back home to Oscar's trash can after a visit. Telly Monster, who had been searching for Fluffy, sees Snuffy and becomes convinced that he saw him. Telly runs to Hooper's Store to tell the adults, who think he was imagining Snuffy. Telly brings the others to Oscar's can to see if they could see Snuffy, but Snuffy left before they got there, convincing Telly that he was imagining him. But then Snuffy sticks his nose out of the trash can, making Telly wonder if he was imagining that.
  • Episode 1957 — Big Bird decides that it's a good day for Snuffy to meet his friends. Big Bird asks Snuffy to stay at his nest area while he looks for friends, and finds David and Olivia, who have to go vote for a candidate (it's election day). Big Bird wants to learn more about voting, so they take him to the voting area and show him how things work. Big Bird then remembers that Snuffy is still waiting to meet them, and runs back to his nest area to take Snuffy there, to meet them and also learn about voting. When they get back, Olivia has already left, and David is in a voting booth, refusing to come out while he's voting. He also explains that Big Bird can't vote because in order to vote, one has to be registered and 18. Snuffy realizes that his mommy is over 18, and leaves to see if she is aware that it's election day, stating that it's more important than meeting Big Bird's friends. David then comes out, having heard Snuffy's voice, but still, doesn't believe that Snuffy was actually there. He then tells Big Bird that there's another important qualification for voting, besides being 18 and registered: "You also have to be real!"
  • Episode 2040 — Big Bird, Snuffy, and some of the adults go to the movies. Big Bird and Snuffy are sitting in the row behind those of the adults who attend the movie. Big Bird asks Bob several times to just quickly turn around and see Snuffy, but he refuses to, saying he doesn't want to miss any of the movie.
  • Don't Eat the Pictures — Snuffy walks by the museum guard, played by Paul Dooley, and mumbling to himself, but just beforehand, the guard had removed his glasses and was now wiping them and not paying attention.

Snuffleupagus Books

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Books that focus on Snuffy include:

Book appearances

Appearances

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Album appearances

Merchandise

See also

Sources

  1. Season 40 Press Kit Bio and mentioned on-screen by Big Bird in Learning About Letters
  2. Borgenicht, David. Sesame Street Unpaved, p. 41.
  3. Nelson, Jerry Tough Pigs interview with Jerry Nelson
  4. See Talk:Michael Earl
  5. BMI#2762893 legally titled "Snuffy Theme"
  6. script for Episode 0291
  7. Personal Interview, Austin Costello

Start a Discussion Discussions about Mr. Snuffleupagus

  • Muppets seeing Snuffy before 1985

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    • Animals like Barkley and Fluffy don't really make sense to me; all the other examples are actual characters who react to this crazy th...
    • Yeah, the animals wouldn't have to be persuaded or argued with or try to rationalize what they've seen. They just treat Snuffy...
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