PERFORMER Fran Brill 1993-2015
  Jennifer Barnhart 2016-present
DEBUT 1993
DESIGN Ed Christie designer
  Rollie Krewson builder
Fran Brill on gender

Fran Brill on gender

Fran Brill talks about gender and the creation of Zoe at the Museum of Television and Radio.


The smaller Zoe puppet originally created for Abby in Wonderland was used as the regular Zoe for Season 40.


Zoe and Rocco.


Zoe makes her first talk show appearance on The Phil Donahue Show in 1994.


Zoe and Abby Cadabby.


Zoe and Elmo.


Zoe and Ernie.


Zoe with her pet rock, Rocco.

Zoe at the playground

Zoe at the park.

Zoe is a three-year-old[1] orange monster who first appeared on Sesame Street in Season 25. She was designed in her color to complement Elmo,[2][3] who was gaining popularity at the time of her introduction. Zoe was created to help balance what was then a predominately male cast of Muppets on the series.[4]

Zoe was originally unclothed, apart from jewelry necklaces, bracelets, and purple and red barrettes (which she is never seen without).[5] Starting in season 33, however, Zoe has often been seen wearing a tutu, because, like many girls of her age, she is obsessed with ballet. Her love of dance is featured in the video Zoe's Dance Moves. In Season 49, she returns to being unclothed.

She occasionally rides a soapbox-style car around Sesame Street, called the Zoemobile. She has a pet rock, Rocco, much to Elmo's constant dismay and she owns a doll named Mimi. Her birthday is September 30,[6] however in a 2009 appearance on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, she states that her birthday is in January.

Her Aunt Chloe has been seen on the show, and her daddy has appeared in a few storybooks. Her Aunt Giselle, who lives in Swan Lake, sent her a tutu in season 34.

From Season 25 to Season 29, she went to the Day Care Center.


From the book Sesame Street Unpaved: "From several possible designs of the character, 'I picked the one that had a face like Carol Channing,' says Fran Brill. 'I wanted her to be obviously female with jewelry and barrettes in her hair. Someone suggested we call her Frannie, since that's my nickname. But I didn't want a Muppet with my name, so I thought of the J.D. Salinger book Franny and Zooey, and suggested Zoe, which seemed to be just right."

To prepare for the character, Brill went to Manhattan preschools and watched 3-year-old girls play. One of the girls said to Brill the phrase which became an early catchphrase for Zoe, "Don't joke me."[7] When the first Zoe puppet was built, Krewson's daughter suggested they put sparkles in her hair.[8]

Beginning with the 2005 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, more hair was added to Zoe, including pink and glittery hairs. In season 40 (2009), a smaller puppet was used, based on the one created specifically for her role as Mousey the Hatter Helper in Abby in Wonderland.[9] This version was only used for one season, and was replaced by the normal-sized Zoe puppet the following season.

At William Paterson University, Martin P. Robinson explained that Telly hadn't appeared in any scenes with the rebuilt Zoe, and Robinson expected that the moment they would meet, Telly would freak out. Fran Brill proceeded to take out the Zoe puppet, and sure enough, Telly freaked out.




See also


  1. Season 47 Press Kit Profile
  2. Sesame Family Newsletter, July 10, 2008
  3. Borgenicht, David, Sesame Street Unpaved, p. 86
  4. Davis, Michael, Street Gang, p. 322
  5. Sesame Street 35 Years Anniversary Game
  6. Press Kit Bios: Season 41, Season 42
  7. "On the Set With: Zoe; This Monster is a Girl", The New York Times, Erik Eckholm. August 19, 1993.
  8. Interview with Rollie Krewson on InFANity
  9. Sesame Street at 40: A Night of Celebration with the Legendary Cast, info written at Tough Pigs

Start a Discussion Discussions about Zoe

  • Fran Brill's other roles

    4 messages
    • KingTartaglia wrote:Jennifer Barnhart has taken over the role as Zoe! Good, now she has a true role. :-P
    • She was the voice of Nina the squirrel from Big Bag's Samuel and Nina.