Hoots the Owl is the resident jazz musician on Sesame Street, first introduced in 1985. Hoots plays the saxophone, often performing at the jazz club Birdland. He has a granddaughter named Athena. Some of his songs have included " Put Down the Duckie", "Do De Rubber Duck", "The Birdcall Boogie", and most recently, "A Cookie Is a Sometime Food" with Cookie Monster.
In a 1988 episode, Hoots explains his career background to Athena through pictures hanging along one of the walls of Birdland. He first started out in a band called "The Rhythm School", where he got his first real gig. Later he worked at a classy nightclub, working with great artists that included his future wife (who closely resembles Athena). He then flew downtown where he got into jazz before finally settling on Sesame Street, where he jammed with his new band, the Birdland Players.
Puppet and character evolution
The puppet used for Hoots made its earliest appearance, with a different performer, as the owl member of the Feathered Friends in Follow That Bird, and was the only member skeptical of Big Bird's sadness.
Originally, when Hoots debuted in 1985, the puppet had realistic owl-like eyes, as well as a moving eyelid mechanism, giving him more expression. The puppet was slightly redesigned for his 2001 return in Music Works Wonders with new orange eyes that look more generic and less owl-like, although they still featured moving eyelid mechanism, in addition to a moving feather brow. The pupils were also simplified, eliminating the original yellow ring that circled them.
In 2006, a new Hoots puppet was used when he was singing "It Feels Good When You Sing a Song" with John Legend. He has longer bright orange-brown feathers, his beak is bright yellow (and more flexible), and his toes are moveable via glove-like holes.
- John Tartaglia performed Hoots in the video Music Works Wonders to a pre-recorded track of Kevin Clash's voice for Hoots (with, unusually, credit for the role).
- According to a 2006 interview with TVGuide.com, Hoots is from Harlem.
- Kevin Clash based Hoots' voice on Louis Armstrong's voice.
- Follow That Bird
- The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years
- Sing Along
- Sesame Street Special
- Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting
- Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake
- Sesame Street Jam: A Musical Celebration
- Sesame Street Stays Up Late
- The Sesame Street ABC Book of Words (1988)
- Sesame Street 123 (1991)
- Sleep Tight! (1991)
- Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bug (1991)
- Grover's 10 Terrific Ways to Help Our Wonderful World (1992)
- Around the Corner on Sesame Street (1994)
- Sesame Street Stays Up Late (1995)
- Elmo's Lift-and-Peek Around the Corner Book (1996)
- The Bunny Hop (1997)
- Elmo's Tricky Tongue Twisters (1998)
- Animal Alphabet (2005)
- What Do You Hear, Dear? (2008)
- Imagine with Elmo (2011)
- Elmo's Rockin' Rhyme Time! (2012)