Elmo is a Muppet on the children's television show Sesame Street. He is a furry red monster with large white eyes and an orange nose. He currently hosts the last full 15 minute segment on Sesame Street, titled Elmo's World, which is aimed at toddlers. He is accompanied by his goldfish Dorothy, and by silent Charlie Chaplin–like characters named Mr. Noodle, Mr. Noodle's Brother Mr. Noodle, and sometimes, Mr. Noodle's Sister Miss Noodle. His puppeteer is Kevin Clash, who uses falsetto to produce his voice.
Elmo is self-described as three and a half years old, and characteristically refers to himself in the third person. For example, "Elmo has a question" rather than, "I have a question". Sesame Street staff writer Nancy Sans once described Elmo's origins: "There was this extra red puppet lying around and the cast would pick him up sometimes and try to create a personality, but nothing seemed to materialize." The puppet was performed by Caroll Spinney in the early 1970s, Brian Muehl from 1979-1981, and the late Richard Hunt from 1981-1984. Sans continues that "...one day [in 1984], Kevin Clash, a talented puppeteer, raised him up and brought energy and life into Elmo and from that day forward we would all write for Elmo. Kevin's performance inspired the writers to develop Elmo's character. The lesson here is never think you're unimportant because you never know what is going to happen. John Tartaglia, Matt Vogel and Jim Martin have all been secondary performers for the character, providing movement for Elmo's arms and legs, particularly in green-screen shots.
After becoming a regular guest on The Rosie O'Donnell Show (June 28, 1996, December 24, 1997, February 16, 1998, November 5, 1998, November 5, 1998, January 28, 1999, September 21, 1999, December 6, 1999, January 4, 2001, September 21, 2001, February 6, 2002, May 2, 2002), Elmo began touring the talk-show circuit. He has appeared on Martha Stewart Living and Martha (September 13, 2005), The Tony Danza Show (October 11, 2004, April 11, 2005, November 10, 2005), Rove Live (March 20, 2001, September 24, 2002, 2004, July 11 2006 and July 13, 2008), Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! (January 26, 2007), and The View (October 10, 2007). Elmo and a developmental expert gave babysitting tips on the June 18, 2005 episode of Teen Kids News.
Elmo also appeared in a fifth season episode of The West Wing, along with his friends Zoe and Big Bird. In the March 3, 2004 episode "Eppur Si Muove", Elmo receives a medical checkup from Abbey Bartlet, the First Lady, and cheekily questions her about the validity of her medical license.
Elmo is the only Muppet ever to testify before the U.S. Congress. At the request and with the assistance of Rep. Duke Cunningham, he testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education in April 2002, urging support for increased funding in music education.
Emeril and Elmo's Healthy Start was a special featuring Elmo and Emeril Lagasse, that aired November 4, 2005 at 8 pm. Aired as part of the Food Network's second annual "Cook With Your Kids Week", the special was produced in conjunction with Sesame Workshop's Healthy Habits for Life program.