Written by Ryan Dosier.
First known appearance…
Sesame Street Season 24, “Elephant Elevator Operator” song (1992)
Most recent appearance…
Sesame Street Season 44 (2013)
Best known role…
Random elephant; elevator operator; tutu-wearer
WHO IS HORATIO THE ELEPHANT?
Horatio the Elephant is one of the few full-body Muppet characters to inhabit Sesame Street on a regular basis. In his first appearance, Horatio, then unnamed, worked as an elevator operator and performed the song “Elephant Elevator Operator.” In this song, the pachyderm was performed by Dave Goelz, in one of his very few performances on Sesame Street. The song played into the hefty elephant’s size and how inept he is as an elevator operator. His role as elevator operator continued into Season 25 and Around the Corner, where he made recurring appearances operating the elevator of the Furry Arms Hotel.
Later, Horatio gained a more streamlined personality thanks to performer Joey Mazzarino, who took on the character on a permanent basis. With Joey, Horatio gained a high-pitched, sometimes whiny voice (similar to many of Joey’s other characters). His purpose on the show is never very defined, beyond being a random annoyance, obstacle, or dance partner. He often appeared extremely excitable, jumping up and down, shaking the street and everyone on it. His main role seemed to be as the ruiner of many plans.
Horatio’s name didn’t become a permanent part of his character until Season 38 (2007). Other names for the elephant included Stevie and Frank. After he got named, Horatio would often appear wearing an oversized tutu. One of his prominent, tutu-wearing appearances came alongside Elmo and Natalie Portman, dancing the ballet of “The Princess and Two Elephants.” (Horatio played the princess, naturally.)
As part of a Sesame Street celebration on CBS This Morning, Joey Mazzarino showcased a video of himself operating inside the Horatio puppet. You can watch it below.
WHY DOES SESAME STREET NEED HORATIO THE ELEPHANT?
Horatio adds a wonderful layer of randomness to Sesame Street. Many of his appearances are very unexpected and surprising and almost always hilarious. Thanks to his obnoxious voice, over the top personality, and penchant for getting in the way, Horatio adds a special kind of humor that Sesame Street is lacking without him. He is a bountiful joy and a lot of fun.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org