Voice Acting

Who Is the Voice of Elmo?

Keaton Robbins | August 16, 2022

An elmo statue waves to the camera.

Elmo’s voice is instantly recognized by millions of children and their parents. Whether it’s a cartoon, Sesame Street’ on PBS, or interviews with celebrities, the sunny character’s falsetto is embedded in our culture. 

But who is the voice behind the puppet? 

In this article

  1. The History of Elmo
  2. Elmo’s Growth in Popularity 
  3. Who Has Voiced Elmo? 
  4. Elmo’s Best Quotes or Videos
  5. Elmo and Tango the Puppy
  6. Elmo Is Angry Compilation
  7. Elmo on Race
  8. Adam Sandler and Elmo Sing
  9. Michelle Obama and Elmo
  10. Sign Language Word of the Day
  11. Quotes from Elmo

The History of Elmo

One of the most beloved pop culture icons, Elmo has influenced generations of children and will undoubtedly be a household name for generations to come. Arising from the family of puppets designed by Jim Henson, Elmo’s image alone can inspire childlike celebration no matter the audience. 

Still, Elmo’s fame was not preordained. Designed in 1979, Elmo was originally created to merely be a background character. Elmo’s first appearance wasn’t even until Season 11 of ‘Sesame Street’. Even then, the soon-to-be-famous creature didn’t have a name. 

That all changed in 1984 when Elmo arrived on the scene with name in tow. The character’s friendly demeanor and characterizing voice made the red monster a favorite among millions of children around the world. 

Over the years, Elmo has met celebrities, traveled the world, and helped educate children on sensitive topics. In 2022, Elmo also captured our collective frustrations perfectly. 

Elmo’s Growth in Popularity 

Once Elmo appeared with a name in 1984, the character’s popularity was meteoric. Products featuring the signature falsetto and the attitude of the puppet also burst onto the scene. 

Tickle Me, Elmo, a toy that launched in 1996, became a cultural zeitgeist at the center of toy store legend.

Because Elmo is a self-described three-and-a-half-year-old with toddler mannerisms to boot, the television star is a popular choice for similarly aged children. Research shows that toddlers who watched Elmo are more likely to solve a nesting-cups puzzle than toddlers who did not watch. 

Decades since the red monster’s introduction, Elmo has become a household name around the world. 

Who Has Voiced Elmo? 

Elmo was voiced by Kevin Clash until 2012. As a young adult, Clash developed and created puppets on his own, and his intense interest and talent led him to Sesame Street. 

Clash notes that his experience as a ‘muppeteer’ and as the voice of Elmo was an entirely humbling experience. Children who love Elmo showed little regard or interest in their voice actors. The character took on a life separate from the performer. 

Clash was replaced with Ryan Dillon, who began working on ‘Sesame Street’ as a teenager. Dillon’s background in all things ‘Sesame Street’ led to him being a strong choice for the new voice of Elmo and remains the voice of Elmo to this day. 

Many other voice actors and celebrities have voiced Elmo over the years, at least informally. Elmo has appeared on SNL (again throwing shade at Rocco the Rock), and impressions of the muppet are a standard character in every voice actor’s repertoire. 

Elmo’s Best Quotes or Videos

YouTube and other video platforms are full of Elmo videos and clips highlighting the character’s sunny personality. 

Whether you’re an adult looking to fine-tune your Elmo impression or entertain yourself by watching the muppet’s shenanigans, there’s a video for you. 

Here are some of our top video picks of Elmo:

Elmo and Tango the Puppy

One of the newest members of the ‘Sesame Street’ family is Tango, who found her forever home with Elmo. She helps Elmo teach children about caring for animals, giving them space, and being a good pet owner. 

Elmo Is Angry Compilation

Elmo might be cute and cuddly, but the furry red monster also has a dark side. This fan-made compilation shows the exacerbated puppet in a variety of situations. Tune in for a laugh or a moment of Zen. 

Elmo on Race

In this video, Elmo learns about race from Wes and his dad, Elijah. This video highlights Elmo’s youthful tone of voice is utilized to explain complex issues to children. 

Adam Sandler and Elmo Sing

This is must-watch television – Adam Sandler and Elmo team up to write a song about Elmo. The actor, notorious for adult comedy, seamlessly transforms to family-friendly fun as part of this duet. 

Michelle Obama and Elmo

Former First Lady Michelle Obama made it her mission to educate children on healthy eating habits. With the help of Elmo, she made healthy eating a central component of ‘Sesame Street’. 

No matter your feelings about Veggie Monster, the chemistry between Elmo and Michelle Obama inspired audiences to enjoy a vegetable now and again. 

Sign Language Word of the Day

From the beginning, ‘Sesame Street’ has involved championing equity. The popular segment featuring a sign language word of the day features Elmo learning a single sign while teaching the audience to do the same.

Quotes from Elmo

Although the furry red monster speaks in the third person, the wisdom behind the muppet’s words holds true for listeners of all ages. After decades of educational television, there are countless quotes demonstrating Elmo’s personality. Here are some of our favorites:

  • “Elmo thinks it’s important to be kind because if you’re kind to somebody, then they’ll be kind to somebody, and it goes on and on and on.”
  • “If you keep practicing, you can do anything.”
  • “It’s incredible where you can go with your imagination.”
  • “Oh look, it’s Mr. Noodle’s Brother, Mr. Noodle!”
  • “Elmo loves you.” 

What’s your favorite Elmo quote or episode? Let us know in the comments below!

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