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

Snuffy with his best friend "Bird."

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Follow That Bird

Dr. Marzullo can't believe her eyes in Episode 0343.

Snuffy is given a gentler appearance in 1972.

Maria finds Snuffy's huge toaster left at the Fix-It Shop in Episode 1800.

Don't Eat the Pictures

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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 runs the NYC marathon in Episode 1836.

A failed attempt at taking a photo of Snuffy in Episode 1676.

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

Although his friends call him Snuffy, his full name is Aloysius Snuffleupagus. He is eternally four 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, and in the fifth season premiere, he revealed that he also drinks sassafras tea. 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.

Snuffy is a big fan of opera music, and at one point attended daily rehearsals at Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. He even performed a light-opera rendition of the alphabet with Judy Collins. In one episode, Snuffy tap danced with Maurice and Gregory Hines, known as the Hines Brothers (who were appearing in the Broadway musical Eubie! at the time).

Imaginary

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.

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, and similarly doesn't believe in David's juggler friend Michael Davis (who also does not believe in Big Bird) in Episode 1959. 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. In fact, on at least two occasions (in episodes 0361 and 0731) the adults manage to — temporarily — convince Big Bird that his friend Snuffy isn't real.

From 1971 to 1985, various kids could see Mr. Snuffleupagus, some Muppets saw him, and even a few celebrities (including Judy Collins in a fantasy sequence), but the major human characters never believed his existence until Episode 2096, the season 17 premiere. In fact, many appearances of Snuffy on the show during the fourteen years in which he was "imaginary" (allegedly), involved some scenario in which the adults would be very close to meeting Snuffy, but then just miss him in the last moment. This was often due to Snuffy being called by his mommy or otherwise needing to go home in the time it took Big Bird to gather his friends. By the seventh season, Snuffy is so used to people not seeing him that in Episode 0796 he counts everyone who doesn't notice him.

One year earlier, in Episode 1966 (the season 16 premiere), Big Bird made an impassioned plea to the adults resulting in Maria, Gordon, and Linda deciding to believe that Snuffy was real despite the lack of evidence. (Maria had periodically shown signs of believing as early as Episode 1800 when she saw Snuffy's giant toaster.)

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]

Many years later, the writers played at Snuffy's original imaginary role in episodes 4069 and 4070 for a plot in which Snuffy became invisible. Martin Robinson once said about Snuffy, "He's not invisible, he just has bad timing!"[3]

Snuffy's family

Uncle Abe, with Big Bird and Snuffy.

Mr. Snuffleupagus lives with his family in a cave located at 456 Snuffle Circle. His little sister Alice was featured as a main character for several years, and he has a Snuffleupagus friend at school named Rosalyn. Sometimes he can be seen playing with his puppet Gus or his stuffed toy Mr. Anteloper.

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

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

Behind-the-scenes

Some early scripts written with the character in them originally referred to Snuffy as "Galopogus."[4] The script for Episode 0278 includes the internal note "Galopogus is known as Snuffle-upagus now."

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.

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 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."[5] Michael Earl Davis took over for three seasons from 1978 to 1981,[6] and then 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)[7] 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."

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.

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, Marty Robinson explained that in between takes, one of the camera operators will 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 sweat through three or four t-shirts.

Notes

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

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

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

Sesame Street style guide (1973)

  • Snuffy gets weighed in Episode 1606 and discovers he weighs 1,000 pounds.
  • According to Snuffy's baby book in Episode 2267, Snuffy's first words were "Ohhh, dear."

Appearances

Album appearances

Book appearances

The Day Snuffy Had the Sniffles

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Books that focus on Snuffy include:

Other book 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. Personal Interview, Austin Costello
  4. scripts for Episode 0291 and 0293
  5. Nelson, Jerry Tough Pigs interview with Jerry Nelson
  6. See Talk:Michael Earl
  7. BMI#2762893 legally titled "Snuffy Theme"
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