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Early (pre-Kevin Clash) Elmo appearances (Brian Muehl and Richard Hunt)

Discussion in 'Classic Sesame Street' started by scarecroe, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. scarecroe

    scarecroe Well-Known Member

    Based on threads here and here, I thought y'all might be interested in a project to identify Elmo's performer transitions in the years before Kevin Clash took on the character.

    This is a Muppet Wiki "sandbox project", which means it's not an encyclopedic article, but a work-in-progress to lock down more details and help us understand more about what has previously had very scarce information available.


  2. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I enjoyed this.

    So Elmo was often called "AM Elmo" in scripts for insert segments? Did they do that with any other characters with no distinct personality (like "AM Maurice" or "AM Harvey")? I feel this should go in the main Elmo page on the wiki.

    So is that one Elmo appearance from season 12 the only season 12 episode with that incarnation of the character, or is it just the only one you've found so far?

    I would have thought Richard Hunt started performing Elmo in season 16, after Brian Meehl left. In fact most official things about Elmo's performer transitions either say or imply that Elmo was taken over by Hunt because Meehl left, and since Meehl has said that he only remembered five or six performances as the character (and he could have performed him a lot more times than he remembers), I assumed he started performing Elmo near the end of his run, like in season 15, but as said the scripts do confirm Meehl around seasons 11 and 12 (and I starting wondering about this when more season 12 episodes surfaced and I noticed it looked like all the newer characters were performed by either Meehl, Earl, Prell, or Clash and felt if he had a regular role talking in sounds he'd have a consistent performer). Though now I wonder if maybe he just stopped being the regular performer and they continued to use the puppet randomly (sometimes with real dialogue, like in "Handful of Crumbs") for years with any performer.

    In the last few days I've started to remember an old Tough Pigs page listing recast history, and I recall in its listing for Elmo, it said Meehl performed Elmo from 1979-1981 and Hunt from 1981-1984, while the same page said Meehl performed Telly from 1979-1984, I remember being confused, wondering why he'd stop performing one character while still on the show for years, and being surprised that Hunt would have performed Elmo for more seasons (since he hated the role so much he gave it away), but of course this was before Muppet Wiki and before we knew to cite sources, but even back then I figured it was a mistake. Either way, Danny Horn wouldn't have had access to CTW Archives documents, scripts, copies of episodes from mysterious sources, or other stuff that fans/wiki contributors have gone on to have access to back then.

    Somebody pointed out that one of the Richard Hunt clips that appears in Being Elmo is episode 2011, the same number as the year the documentary came out, and I noticed the other clip is from episode 2018, the same number as this year, but in looking at those redlinked episodes, I found that another of his early appearances was episode 1969 - matching the year Sesame Street began!

    I used to think that the "Grover sells newspapers" segment was from the early 1990s, maybe late 1980s at best, but eventually figured it came before Kevin Clash was the character, as Elmo was portrayed as part of a marching band consisting of monsters with no real personality. I figured if it came later they wouldn't use Elmo or should have used more main monsters like Telly or Zoe. And then I found that its EKA was a season 16 episode (and later I believe I saw a season 16 episode confirmed as the first).
  3. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    What insert scripts was he called "AM Elmo" in? Is the name used in segments where he doesn't talk and it wouldn't really matter who was used (like "Me Lost Me Cookie in the Disco", "Grover Sells Newspapers", "Kermit News: First Day of School", etc.)? I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't named in some of the segments where he does talk, especially if they were made in season 11 (like "Me, Claudias", "We're All Monsters", etc.).

    In Caroll Spinney's autobiography, he described Brian Meehl's performance of the character as one who talked fast and repeated words, but now I wonder if maybe he was mistaking Meehl's performances for Richard Hunt's.
  4. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I've seen it mentioned a few times on the wiki that some of these scripts appear to be transcribed from the episodes after they were finished (I think it was said the original scripts were lost or whatever, in that case it's great they bothered to create new copies), and I've heard of some old scripts using a modern format (which resulted in Annie Evans being credited as writer in an episode that was written years before she joined the show). Could it be possible that some of the scripts identifying Elmo as "AM Elmo" were from somebody watching the episodes and re-writing/transcribing the episode as a new script?
  5. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    It says that by the 13th season Elmo no longer mumbles but his dialogue is still basic. Brian Meehl has said that when he performed Elmo, he was speaking in single words, from the first two scripts I get the feeling he was saying single words in addition to primarily mumbling. Was Elmo still talking in single words when the mumbling was dropped from his personality?
  6. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Not sure if this is the right thread for this, but after seeing the "first appearance" of many early Elmo segments being episodes from season 12 or later, even if they're known to have been taped during season 11, I must wonder, was "We're All Monsters" the only Elmo insert that was broadcast during season 11?
  7. OscarandTelly

    OscarandTelly Well-Known Member

    I noticed one of the episodes listed with Elmo is 1813. The whole episode was on youtube at one point and he wasn't in it. However it was the Canadian broadcast. Is it possible the scene with Elmo references the USA or Mabye even has to do with the American flag? which is why it was cut from the Canadian version?
  8. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    That might be an issue we need to fix; the date used on the original YT upload might have been the Canadian airdate and I just went along with it.
  9. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I noticed that, also noticed that a few of those other episodes already had pages, taken from incomplete copies (so we were soooooo close to early Elmo....).

    I don't think Sesame Street Canada removed things for being too American (can't really think of many Sesame Street segments about American culture). More likely it'd be a case of different curriculum's/educational needs among the two countries. I believe the Canadian show removed/replaced segments teaching Spanish words (which also seems to be the case with the Japanese version... and it seems many Spanish-teaching-segments have been cut in recent years on HBO and home video). And perhaps they just wanted to include locally-produced segments even if they didn't have anything that would "need" to be cut.
  10. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I see two episodes listed that are crossed out, with a note that he's only listed in the cast. I assume that's because, whether he's in there or not, we wouldn't be able to know who performed him if we saw an English copy the footage.

    But it is kinda weird they'd note Elmo in the cast if he doesn't do anything significant. Though I have seen script pages that list things needed for segments (talent, props, etc.), but I would have thought if Muppet characters were used as extras with no dialogue or anything to note in the script, they would just pick whatever characters are handy without it being noted in the script.

    I assumed both of those episodes called for large crowd scenes and were listing characters intended to appear, but looking at the first of them, it looks like there's not really a crowd or group scene. I'm guessing Elmo's just a customer at Hooper's, or maybe walks by on the street.
  11. Cookie3001

    Cookie3001 Well-Known Member

    I think the reason Sesame Workshop hasn't released any of these clips to the public is because Elmo is the most important part of their show and if they show their audience the old gruff sounding Elmo it might send the wrong message to kids. That's why the original version of "We Are All Monsters" was dubbed by Kevin Clash in every video release it's gotten.
    BertFan and Blue Frackle like this.
  12. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Care to expand a little bit more on this logic?
  13. Cookie3001

    Cookie3001 Well-Known Member

    I'm just saying that Sesame Workshop is so worried about what the audiences will think that they can't release these early Elmo clips. The gruff sounding Elmo might scare little kids who are used to the falsetto voiced Elmo and they don't want that to happen because he is now the main part of the show. I remember when I was little being scared of the gruff sounding Elmo in the "Me Claudius" sketch :laugh:.
    Blue Frackle likes this.
  14. Blue Frackle

    Blue Frackle Well-Known Member

    I think that's totally plausible; it lines up with the Margaret Hamilton thing. They are that crazy. :D
  15. LittleJerry92

    LittleJerry92 Well-Known Member

    That's what I've been saying!

    Orange Oscar? Meh.

    Green Grover? Meh.

    Early Elmo? NOPE NOPE NOPE! THINK OF DA CHILDREN! :rolleyes:

    Really, how "Me, Claudius" got on the 40 years DVD, IDK.
    Blue Frackle likes this.
  16. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    "Me, Claudius" has always been the one go-to clip for retrospectives and historical look-backs to detail the difference in Elmo's voice prior to Kevin Clash inheriting the character.

    And, to be fair, even some of Brian Meehl's Telly (mainly BIG BIRD IN CHINA) was later dubbed by Marty Robinson.
  17. LittleJerry92

    LittleJerry92 Well-Known Member

    Fair enough.
  18. MuppetSpot

    MuppetSpot Well-Known Member

    No disrespect to Brian but Marty was the guy who actually made Telly into a great character.
  19. LittleJerry92

    LittleJerry92 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, Brian’s Telly was just very whiney and annoying.
  20. Blue Frackle

    Blue Frackle Well-Known Member

    Huge nostalgia for whiny Telly cause of Don't Eat the Pictures.

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