Friends, the other day I happened to stumble across a 1979 lunch box for Sesame Street, and felt that it should be shared on the Pop Culture Retrorama Facebook page. The reason being is that besides the likes of Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie as well as other familiar characters – it also prominently displayed Sherlock Hemlock and even Lefty the Salesman. To my chagrin, especially as much as I tout my love of the Muppets and the legacy of Jim Henson, I have to be totally upfront and admit that I had completely forgotten all about the character of Lefty the Salesman. Which is a shame as the character, which was originally voiced by Frank Oz, was an early reoccurring character who made his debut on February 26th of 1970 – the 79th episode of the long running and beloved Sesame Street television show.
Lefty the Salesman even had a popular song entitled “Would You Like to Buy an O?” – which was not only featured on The Muppet Alphabet Album in ’71 – but would be featured in a segment on Sesame Street too.
As previously mentioned, the character of Lefty the Salesman was initially voiced by Frank Oz – thanks to the Muppet Wiki though we know that it was the legendary Don Sahlin who was responsible for the construction of the puppet. Not only did Sahlin build the Rolf the Dog puppet but he also constructed Bert and Ernie, Grover, and Cookie Monster to name just a few. In addition to becoming the chief designer and puppet builder until his passing in 1978 – Sahlin also worked with Henson on the stop-motion shorts The Queen of Six and The King of Eight.
Lefty the Salesman, as I understand it, while still showing up in various books, background shots, and other merchandise over the years – stopped being featured in new Sesame Street skits back in 1975. However those original segments were apparently still showing up on the TV series as late as 1998 – and the character even had a prominent appearance in the Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2019 – now voiced by Ryan Dillon (My Sesame Street Friends). Lefty the Salesman has recently been seen as a member of the studio audience in the HBO Max series The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo) – the titular host being voiced by Dillon.
So in closing out this article – do you happen to remember Sesame Street’s Lefty the Salesman? Let us know in the comments section!