Rosita is a turquoise, bilingual monster who first appeared on Sesame Street in 1991 in Episode 2888 (Season 23). Hailing from Mexico, her full name is Rosita, la Monstrua de las Cuevas (Rosita, the Monster of the Caves). She is five years old, and celebrates her birthday on December 7. She is the second bilingual Muppet to recur on the show (after Osvaldo the Grouch), speaking both English and Spanish.
Rosita has an extended family which includes an abuela and other relatives. Her dad, Ricardo, served in the military and is in a wheelchair due to injuries related to his service. He made his debut with Rosita's mom, Rosa, in the 2008 resource video, Talk, Listen, Connect: Changes.
The idea of a bilingual Muppet character for the show was conceived as early as 1990 by Jim Henson, who allowed Carmen Osbahr to pick what type of character it would be. A monster was ultimately chosen, fearing an indigenous animal might be viewed as politically incorrect. After Henson's passing, Osbahr met with some of the show's creative team to finally develop the character as she became.
Rosita was named after one of Carmen Osbahr's best friends in Mexico, and was originally conceived as "a young girl monster proud of her heritage who encounters problems learning English." Sonia Manzano devised the character's surname "the Monster of the Caves."
Rosita originally had wings attached to her arms, akin to those of another cave-dwelling creature, the fruit bat.
Members of Rosita's family have exhibited the ability to fly, as seen in Episode 3341 where Rosita practices some flying of her own, but has trouble with making landings. In 2017, performer Carmen Osbahr explained that "She couldn't fly but she was able to glide like a flying squirrel. But mainly the big arms with wings were [designed] because she [used] to give very big hugs and to play the guitar."
Her designer Ed Christie went into detail on the puppet's construction in the same social media post:
“I designed Rosita with wings. Totally my invention. She was described to me as a "monster from the caves". I took it upon myself to reference a bat....and she was a monster that evolved similarly. I also thought (and hoped) that it would have been characterized as a sign of female empowerment...a way for the character to do things the other monsters didn't. It was a sort of superpower built into her species.
Unfortunately, the writers didn't pick up on that. Add to that, it was a great solution to hiding the performers arms....kind of like the way the performer is hidden under Cookie Monster's sack shape. Another thought was that she would do great dance movements - like if she wanted to teach "flamenco". The wings were cut from the fur fabric in such a way to form pleats. They moved beautifully.
One year, while I was no longer in charge of running SS for Henson, she had no wings. I was really pissed off and if I had the opportunity, would have had a meeting or two to defend their existence. I was so determined to make her different than the other monsters. Aggravating! But Carmen continues to do amazing work with her and it's such a joy stumbling across a Rosita performance.”
Beginning with Season 35, Rosita was rebuilt and no longer had wings. Years later, Osbahr revealed that the decision to remove Rosita's wings had never been communicated with her:
“The first day of Season... I don't remember which one she just didn't have them. It shocked me. It was Production at Sesame Workshop. What they told me was that the people in Merchandise took that decision.
The interesting thing was Rosita doesn't have a lot of merchandise.
I really like the wings. It made her look like a different Monster. Like 20 years ago they wrote a very funny script. Prairie was helping Rosita with her flying and landing. At the end of the show Prairie was wearing a helmet because no matter what Rosita keep landing on her head.”
In a 2011 interview with ToughPigs.com, Rosita offers an explanation for the loss of her wings: she claims that her family flew from their cave (near Snuffy's) during a storm, like a flying squirrel, and she lost her wings. A spare Rosita puppet, with the wings intact, continued to be used as Rosita's Abuela.
- In Episode 3832, Rosita says that Prairie Dawn is her best friend, but in Episode 3886, she looks for a best friend and eventually settles for Herry Monster. During the 1980s (and as listed in their profiles in The Sesame Street Treasury volumes 6 and 9), it was Herry and Prairie who were often paired as best friends.
- Years before Rosita first arrived, Big Bird made friends with a chicken named Rosita on his trip to New Mexico.
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- We're Different, We're the Same (1992)
- Big Bird Meets the Orchestra (1993)
- Around the Corner on Sesame Street (1994)
- Bright and Early with Elmo (1994)
- Rosita's Block Party (1994)
- Rosita's Calico Cat (1994)
- Rosita's New Friends (1994)
- My Name Is Rosita (1995)
- Rosita's Surprise (1995)
- Sesame Street Stays Up Late (1995)
- Elmo's Lift-and-Peek Around the Corner Book (1996)
- Christmas Songs (1997)
- Elmo's Christmas Colors (1997)
- Pumpkin Patch Party (1997)
- Baby Party (1998)
- It's Not Easy Being Big! (1998)
- Clap Your Hands! (2002)
- Look and Find Elmo (2002)
- Listen to Your Fish (2003)
- Brought to You by... Sesame Street! (2004)
- Elmo's World: Sports! (2004)
- Fun with Friends (2004)
- Animal Alphabet (2005)
- Boo! (2005)
- Be a Friend (2006)
- Let's Compare Sizes (2006)
- S is for School! (2006)
- Abby Cadabby's Rhyme Time (2007)
- Big Bigger Biggest (2007)
- Counting All Around (2007)
- Elmo & Friends Picture Stories (2007)
- Lots of Opposites (2007)
- Music Player Storybook (2007)
- Rosita's Easter on Sesame Street (2007)
- I'm a Helper (2007)
- Color Carnival (2008)
- Rosita and Elmo Read a Recipe (2008)
- Rosita and the Beanstalk (2008)
- Storybook ABCs (2008)
- What's the Word on the Street? (2008)
- Count to 10 (2009)
- Love, Elmo (2009)
- My Big Book of Firsts (2009)
- Busy Friends (2010)
- Murray's First Book of Words (2010)
- Elmo's Christmas Picture Puzzles & Songs (2011)
- Elmo's Merry Christmas (2011)
- Over on Sesame Street (2012)
- Borgenicht, David. Sesame Street Unpaved, 1998.
- Season 46 press kit
- "Tough Pigs Live From Sesame Street: Abby Cadabby & Rosita" June 2, 2011
- Below the Frame, season two, episode two
- Apodaca, Rose, "Sesame Street's Newest Resident Is Furry, Affectionate and Latina", Los Angeles Times, January 28, 1993.
- Sonia Manzano interview, video interview for the Archive of American Television, conducted on July 15, 2004.
- Muppet Wiki on Facebook August 29, 2017
- YouTube: Spanish Is My Superpower
- TVBroadcast.com "Preserving The Value Of Sesame Street" by Debra Kaufman