Interesting Facts About Bert and Ernie from ‘Sesame Street’

Bert and Ernie are two of the most enduring, and popular characters on “Sesame Street.” Since 1969, the pair has entertained children of all ages. Even though many of us grew up watching the sketches with the two characters, there is a myriad of information about the duo that few people know about. Here are some of them.


Bert and Ernie were originally modeled after fruits. Bert was the thin and yellow banana to Ernie’s short and round orange. Frank Oz was originally going to be the voice or Bert with Jim Henson voicing Ernie. They decided to switch after the first day of rehearsal. The comedy duo was based off of other tall and skinny/short and chubby comedy duos like Laurel and Hardy and Abbot and Costello.

Screen Test

When the original pilot test for “Sesame Street” was shown to children, Bert and Ernie were to the only part of the show that scored high. Many of the other ideas for the show were scrapped. There were some executives that considered making the show only about the two characters, but Jim Henson wanted a larger cast of characters. Another odd fact is that they were the only Muppets to be seen in the pilot episode.

“It’s a Wonderful Life”

There has been a misconception for years that Bert and Ernie were named after the cop and cab driver from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Jim Henson stated a few times that while he had seen the movie, he never really paid attention to the names of the minor characters, and did not use the names as a reference. It was only a coincidence.

Bert and Ernie are Not Gay

There have been many rumors over the years that Bert and Ernie are gay. The Sesame Street Workshop have pointed out on many occasions that they are not. In fact, Bert has sung songs to women in an attempt to woo them in the past. There are many interesting theories out there about how this rumor started and why it has endured.

Ernie Goes Voiceless

From the time that Jim Henson died in 1990, until Steve Whitmire took over the character in 1993, Ernie never spoke live. He would be seen in the background as if he were a backup character. There were skits of Bert and Ernie that were shown during this time, but they were all reruns. Take a look at any of the Sesame Street movies of the time, and you will be amazed that one of the most popular characters never peeps a word. There were some that believed that this was a foreshadowing that Ernie would be killed off to teach children about death. That never came to pass.