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Was the early, non-Kevin Clash Elmo ever in any street scenes?

Discussion in 'Classic Sesame Street' started by PiLfan, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. PiLfan

    PiLfan Member

    I know in Elmo's early years on the show (around 1979-1984) he was puppetered by Brian Muehl and then for a short while by Richard Hunt before Kevin Clash took over for good in/around 1985, and then the rest is history.

    I've seen a few clips of the non-Kevin Clash Elmo ("Me, Claudius", "We're All Monsters", etc) but they have all been skits. I was wondering if anyone remembers the early Elmo actually appearing on the Street in a "street scene"?...and if he was, who he interacted with, was he addressed as or called himself Elmo, or what kind of voice he had?
  2. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Elmo has had his name as early as season 12. A season 12 press release described Elmo as a character who talks in sounds (though obviously there are early segments where he speaks full sentences, perhaps from before he became Elmo). Brian Meehl has an official website, and I e-mailed him shortly after seeing that press release, and he told me that the early Elmo often spoke in single-words and was learning to speak spanish (the fact that he was learning spanish was mentioned in the 40th anniversary book). It was said in Street Gang that Brian Meehl actually only performed Elmo four or five times, though he seems to be considered Elmo's original performer (there are known instances where Elmo was performed by others, before Meehl took on the role). Meehl told me that he only remembered one speciffic scene where he performed Elmo.

    In Caroll Spinney's autobiography, he said that the early Elmo spoke fast and often repeated words. In fact in Follow That Bird, Elmo seems to be doing this, saying "No, no, no, no, no!" Hmmm, that was also part of his line in "Me, Claudias". Spinney gave one example of his early speech being "Play, play, Elmo want to play". I guess that implies he spoke in the first person early on, though it could just be an example of how he spoke.

    Fans have said that in the original "We are Monsters", before the monsters sing Elmo originally said "He doesn't look like me", which was redubbed to "He doesn't look like Elmo". Somebody at Muppet Wiki contacted someone at Sesame Workshop who confirmed that the pre-Kevin Clash version debuted in season 11 or 12, but I don't know if anybody actually has a video copy of the original edit. Every version I see on YouTube seems to take the video footage and replace the audio with the version from The Gang's All Here (where all of the audio tracks originated on the show as opposed to being rerecorded), and I've noticed when Elmo says his opening line, his mouth makes the same number of syllables as "He doesn't look like Elmo" (instead of "Me"). So maybe Elmo did speak in the first person at first.

    If more classic episodes show up at iTunes, I hope they include a season 11-17 episode with the song. Or maybe sesamestreet.org will add it (I never thought a green Grover or Brian Meehl as Telly clip would be added to the site but the site does have those kinds of clips).
  3. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Brian originated Elmo as the character with a name, but the puppet itself (originally known as "Baby Monster") had been around before then, and had an array of different performers, including Caroll at one point; Kevin has said in various different interviews that the purpose of the puppet was simply to add more color to the ensemble of different Muppet Monsters, which mostly consisted of blue monsters, green monsters, etc... they wanted a red monster, so that's how the puppet came to be.

    The puppet didn't become known as Elmo until one of the writers (I forget who off the top of my head, but Kevin mentions it on the 40 Years of Sunn Days DVD) took a liking to the puppet, because of it's bright red and unique look, and began writing for this "new character" known as "Elmo".

    So the puppet as Elmo was originally performed by Brian, but the puppet as Baby Monster was randomly picked up by whoever happened to be in the insert.
  4. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Some of this information doesn't quite add up (maybe I should discuss it in the "facts that don't add up" thread). It's been said that Baby Monster was around in one of the earliest seasons, and then was put in storage for many years until they came up with the idea for the Elmo character (and it seems he was just a generic monster when he was brought back). There's virturally no footage of this Baby Monster available to fans, and the only known Baby Monster clip mentioned in CTW Archives production material is a segment called "Baby Monster: Is", which appears in at least a couple of season two episodes (assuming this is the right Baby Monster... It seems the writers loved to use that name).

    So Baby Monster was around early on, and none of us seem to remember him. He doesn't appear in any early Sesame Street books (quite a few characters seem more present in books than the series), and he's not in the finale of The Muppet Movie, which tried to include everyone (well, except the Sam and Friends cast... and Mr. Snuffleupagus... And Sam the Robot... And Sweetums...).

    And it's often said that the character was created because they didn't have a red monster. I wonder if they thought this, then found the monster in storage (or perhaps somebody remembered the character and brought it up) and started using him.

    Caroll Spinney seems to be the only one who remembers Baby Monster. He talked about the character in his autobiography (though surprisingly he never mentioned performing him... Since that's his autobiography I'd think he'd mention that) and later at the 2004 BAM! event confirmed that he performed him. This fact isn't mentioned in Sesame Street Unpaved, Street Gang, 40 Years of Life on the Street, or any other official sources.

    Still, Baby Monster isn't the only rare character who's very rarely mentioned in official reference books. Shivers the Penguin and Leslie Mostly are among those other types of characters.
  5. SOTTH

    SOTTH New Member

    I've always assumed this was the case. They had a red monster that looked good, and everybody tried to do something with it and could never bring much life to it, but it was never really a "character" - even a minor character.
    The earliest appearance I could think of seeing him was on "Follow That Bird". When Big Bird returned to Sesame Street at the end of the movie, Muppets started poking their heads out of windows to see him, and "the red monster" was one of them. (He didn't have a speaking part, and seemed to be chosen more because the bright red fur contrasted so nicely with the brick on the outside of the building.)

    I hadn't known that he went back as far as season 12. Good stuff, minor muppetz!

    FUZZYRED Member

    Hi there, since I'm big fan of elmo and know a lot of history about him. This is may interesting you that We're all monsters song that was made in 1978! I have that proof and if anyone own Monster Hits video with the poster. Look under heading and it was copyright in 1978. If so, maybe Baby Monster was debut early than 1979 or record for late season 8 or season 9 into sometime 1979.

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