|Blue wolf, 1970s.|
|PERFORMER||Jerry Nelson 1973-2011|
The Big Bad Wolf is a famous fairy tale character, professional windbag, and connoisseur of pork and baskets of goodies. He continually engages in the good-natured pursuit of the Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood. He has been seen on Sesame Street in many different incarnations over the years, most commonly performed by Jerry Nelson. The character appeared in "Sesame Street News Flash" segments which reenacted or spoofed his stories, but later began making appearances on the street itself.
The original version of the Big Bad Wolf debuted in a 1973 News Flash sketch, as a blue, shaggy wolf with an angry expression; repurposed from the Herry Monster puppet, with added pointy ears and a wolf muzzle. A green wolf puppet, first seen as a "medium-sized" wolf in a skit where Kermit the Frog casts the role of The Big Bad Wolf, has occasionally been used for the character. By 1988, the Wolf had been redesigned with purple fur. This iteration would be used more often afterwards, although other versions of the character with different fur colors have also popped up from time to time (the blue version's last appearance to date is in a "The New Here Is Your Life" segment honoring a storybook of "Little Red Riding Hood". (First: Episode 3367))
On occasion, the purple wolf puppet would be used for different wolves, including Herb Wolf (a distant cousin), Jackman Wolf, Wolfy, the Big Mad Wolf in the song "Bad Wolf," and a Big Good Wolf in an insert where the Three Little Pigs are asked to identify the culprit in a police line-up; the green wolf is used here for the Big Bad Wolf, disguised in a beard. (First: Episode 2541)
The Big Bad Wolf has occasionally displayed diverse talents or interests outside of blowing down houses and chasing pigs. In a 1982 News Flash with Cookie Monster as Little Red Riding Hood, he appeared as Dr. Wolf, tending to Cookie's sick grandmother. On another occasion, he invaded Ernie and Bert's apartment, where Bert assumed he was merely Ernie in another disguise. (When the skit was adapted into book form as The Many Faces of Ernie, the Big Bad Wolf was replaced by Frazzle.) The wolf also appeared in a Monsterpiece Theater skit parodying Dances with Wolves, in which the wolf and a female pig discuss their differences and dance with each other. In Episode 4219, the Wolf claims that he's no longer in the huffing-and-puffing business and works as a blow dryer at a beauty salon. He then demonstrates by drying the hair of one of his customers, Mrs. Hathahkugel.
In the late 1990s and beyond, in his now mostly standard purple form, the Big Bad Wolf frequently played key roles in street storylines and in videos. He showed a flair for civil service as well, functioning as City Nest Inspector in Episode 3980, and using his hurricane breath to determine whether Big Bird's new nest was safe and could withstand the elements. In Episode 4035, the Big Bad Wolf's brother Leonard visited Sesame Street and taught Elmo and Rosita that not all wolves are the same. Some episode storylines deal with the Big Bad Wolf overcoming his habit of huffing-and-puffing. Episodes 3617 and 4082 show the Big Bad Wolf to be a sore loser who huffs and puffs whenever he loses a game. In Episode 4266, the Wolf blows away Slimey and later Snuffy without realizing the harm he's causing. When he sees the error of his ways, he decides to switch to a new hobby: blowing bubbles!
On the video front, he appeared in the direct-to-video productions Sing, Hoot & Howl, Learning to Share, and Telling the Truth (as the eponymous antagonist of the story "The Boy Who Cried Wolf"). He also appeared in The Best of Kermit on Sesame Street, providing security as "Pig Control," helping Grover recite his speech for Kermit without being bothered by the Three Little Pigs. Additionally, the Wolf starred in the direct-to-video Elmo's Musical Adventure: Peter and the Wolf; as performed by Noel MacNeal, this was his most substantial role to date, appearing much more primal and less anthropomorphic. The Wolf also made a cameo in the opening number of the 2008 direct-to-video special Abby in Wonderland, performed by Kevin Clash.
A gray variation of the Big Bad Wolf is used in Episode 4087 (2005) and Episode 4145 (2007). In the latter, the Wolf, performed by Tyler Bunch, takes on a thespian personality and lets out an operatic "huff and puff!" as he blows each of the pigs' houses down. In subsequent appearances, the Wolf reverted back to the purple puppet, as seen in Episode 4149. His thespian personality reappears in Episodes 4266 and 4319, performed again by Bunch in both instances. The gray wolf puppet would later be used as "Bacob" in a Cookie's Crumby Pictures segment spoofing The Twilight Saga.
The Season 45 sketch "House of Bricks" features the Big Bad Wolf as "Frank Underwolf," who tells the audience his plan to take over the White Brick House, and blows down the other pigs' houses that stand in his way. The purple wolf has been a guest at The Furchester Hotel and is seen in the show's opening sequence.
- Jerry Nelson (1973-2011)
- Martin P. Robinson (occasional)
- Kevin Clash (occasional through 2008, Abby in Wonderland)
- Joey Mazzarino (occasional through 2012, episode 4309)
- Tyler Bunch (2007-2013)
- Peter Linz (1998, The Best of Kermit on Sesame Street)
- Matt Vogel (2013, episodes 4318, 4402)
- Noel MacNeal (2001, Elmo's Musical Adventure: Peter and the Wolf)
- Grover's Little Red Riding Hood (1976)
- Big Bird's Red Book (1977)
- The Sesame Street Dictionary (1980)
- Elmo Visits the Dentist (2007)
- Friendly, Frosty Monsters (2007)
- Storybook ABCs (2008)
Other "Bad" Wolves
- In addition to the consistent Big Bad Wolf character and puppets, a few other skits have had "bad" wolves who are clearly intended as different characters. An orange wolf parodying Michael Jackson (whose scripted name is Jackson) was the title singer in "Bad Wolf," performed by David Rudman.
- In the 2013 "Homelamb" sketch, an updated variant of the green wolf that has commonly been used on Germany's Sesamstrasse as Wolf vom Wörtersee since 2007 and on Eine Möhre für Zwei simply as Wolf thereafter, was used for Agent Nicholas Ba-a-a-a-rody (who is also the Big Ba-a-a-a-a-d Wolf), performed again by Rudman.
- Oscar the Grouch is auditioning for the lead in the play The Big Bad Wolf in the storybook, Ernie and His Merry Monsters.
- In an interview, Murray Monster mentioned that "I read the Huffing-and-puffing-ton Post. The Big Bad Wolf runs that one." The interviewer mentions "Oh, that's powerful journalism," to which Murray replies "It sure is. Stories that will blow you away."
- Facebook conversation between Anthony Thompson and Peter Linz. Nov. 3, 2013
- "Joshua Kors: Little-Known Muppet Takes Center Stage: Q&A with Murray Monster, Rising Star of Sesame Street", american superstar, December 1, 2011.