Guy Smiley

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Guy Smiley
Sesame Street character
First appearance1969 (as Sonny Friendly)
Created byJim Henson
Portrayed byJim Henson (1969–1990)
Steve Whitmire (1998)
Eric Jacobson (2005–present)

Guy Smiley is a fictional character on Sesame Street who was dubbed "America's favorite game show host." His skits are among those on the show that parody commercial media.[1] Smiley has also hosted This Is Your Lunch, a parody of This Is Your Life. Guests who were profiled included a loaf of bread, a tooth and a tree (all aimed at teaching children how things are made). He has also hosted pageants for numbers and letters.

Performed by Jim Henson, the character was mostly discontinued upon Henson's death in 1990. He appeared as a background character in a street scene in 1998, and was performed by Steve Whitmire. He also appeared in the CD-ROMs, "Let's Make a Word" (a spoof of Let's Make a Deal) and "Get Set to Learn", where his voice was credited to Don Reardon. More recently the character has been performed by Eric Jacobson, starting with video inserts in the touring exhibit "Sesame Street Presents: The Body". As seen in the preview for the 39th season, Smiley will officially return to the show.

Game shows[edit]

Smiley has hosted many game show skits, such as:

  • Can You Guess? — a satire of To Tell The Truth — Three Muppets, a father, mother and son, each announce themselves as "the mother of this family," and Grover (then called "Billy Monster") has to guess which is the true mother. (The Smiley character was then named "Big Bob.")
  • Pick Your Pet — a blindfolded little girl Muppet, Betty Lou, must choose one of three animals (one a monster) as her own pet without being able to see any of them, after asking each of them how they would behave in her home as her pet and listening to their answers. (The Smiley character was then named "Sonny Friendly.")[2]
  • The Mr. and Mrs. Game — the first skit in which the host was named Guy Smiley, this satire of The Newlywed Game featured a monster couple. The object was for the wife to guess her husband's favorite color, food and sport without being told in advance, after Betty Lou took him into a soundproof booth so he couldn't hear his wife's answers.[3]
  • The Remembering Game — a spoof of Concentration, two contestants try to match prizes on a four-space board. In its one appearance, Cookie Monster and an Anything Muppet named Bill Smith didn't like the prizes they had "won," so they traded prizes. Cookie had won an airplane and Bill had won a cookie.
  • What's My Part? — a spoof of What's My Line? — Three blindfolded celebrities had to identify a body part before all three of them were disqualified (by asking a question that had a "no" answer). The first segment, featuring a nose, starred panelists Cookie Monster, Bennett Snerf and Arlene Frantic as noseless monsters. (The latter two were Muppet parodies of longtime What's My Line? panelists Bennett Cerf and Arlene Francis).[4] The second segment, featuring a foot, starred Snerf, Frantic, and Professor Hastings as Anything Muppets with human features.[5].
  • What's My Letter? – Based on the sixth track from the 1971 Sesame Street record The Muppet Alphabet Album,[6] this sequence featured Smiley challenging Prairie Dawn to guess a particular letter of the alphabet.[7]
  • Get Wordy - a spoof of Jeopardy!, Smiley reads a meaning of a phrase and contestants have to guess what the phrase is.
  • Mystery Guest — a spoof of a term used on What's My Line? — The contestants, (Cookie Monster, Don Music and Sherlock Hemlock), must guess who the Mystery Guest is. In this clip, it was the letter X, but nobody guessed correctly, and it turned out that the letter X belonged in the exit sign. It ran once.
  • Beat the Time — a spoof of Beat the Clock — The contestant must bring in a number of things that rhyme with the key word or contain something. In the most famous segment, Cookie Monster must find three things that rhyme with "rain", and will win a cookie if successful before the arrow on the clock reaches zero. Cookie manages to find a cane he stole from an old man, a chain holding a monster (Frazzle) and, at the last second, arrives onto the stage by smashing through the wall with a train (the same train he rode in "The Ballad of Casey McPhee"). It ran for five segments. Another "Beat the Time" involved the Count, where the Count has to bring in two things that come from the sky (his thunder and lightning when he counts). This is the one where Smiley reveals his real name to be Bernie Liederkranz.
  • To Tell a Face — a spoof of To Tell the Truth — A Baby must figure out who is real person out of three panelists. It ran for seven segments.
  • The Triangle Is Right — A spoof on the title The Price Is Right — Every question is answered with the response, "A triangle" (a possible indirect reference to the real-life quiz show scandals of the '50s). It was short-lived.
  • What's My Job? — another spoof of What's My Line? - The three contestant monsters have to figure out what the person's job is. Round 1 was a firefighter, Round 2 was a dentist, and Round 3 was another game show host named Sonny Friendly (who thinks Guy Smiley is a guest). They argued at the end leaving with Guy Smiley remarking "This whole thing was a rotten idea! Who put this man on the show?" His suit was provided by Sierra Lagoon, while Sonny Friendly's suit was provided by Frederick La Frensworth.
  • Say the Word — a spoof of The $25,000 Pyramid - The contestants are Chet O'Leary and Maurice Monster. Guy gives Chet the word "STOP" but Chet cannot say that word but give out clues to Maurice Monster on the word. He tickles Maurice Monster until Maurice yells "STOP!" and Guy Smiley blurted "That's right. You said the word STOP! Congratulations!"
  • Name that Sound! — a spoof of Name That Tune There were two skits.
    • Grover: Grover has to guess the three sounds (Such as a train whistle, a dog barking, and faucet dripping). He got them all right, but after he guessed the faucet dripping, it got flooded.
    • Honker: A Honker has to figure out the sounds but since Guy Smiley couldn't understand them, the Honker brings in things that have been mentioned by the sounds (Such as a cow, a horse, and a fire engine).
  • Dialing for Prizes Movie — a spoof of Dialing for Dollars The lucky contestant is Mr. Lucky. And the lucky word is "Fur". And the prizes are furry monsters.
  • Here is Your Life — a spoof of This is Your Life - Guy Smiley honors the contestant (usually a certain object) They include:
    • an oak tree
    • a loaf of bread
    • a tooth
    • a right foot sneaker
    • a painting of a bowl of fruit
    • a house (2102 Shady Lane)
    • a carton of eggs
  • The Letter of the Day Pageant — a spoof of Miss America Pageant in which all letters compete. The letter S can swim; the letter C addresses herself as the letter C; and the letter T can tap dance. Up came the vowel finalists, A, E, I, O, and U. The letter E wins the pageant, and Guy Smiley sings him a song about the letter E to honor the winner.

Other appearances[edit]

In Sesame Street's premiere season (1969–70), Smiley sang Allie Wrubel and Herb Magidson's 1937 song "Gone with the Wind" while a strong wind was blowing away a tree, a house, a woman, and ultimately his clothes. This segment was dubbed in Spanish for international broadcasts.[8][9]

Also that season, Smiley hosted the first segment of "The Answer Lady," featuring an elderly woman named Granny Fanny Nesselrode who claimed she had the answer to everything but never gave the best answer to any question sent in by a viewer. Smiley was later replaced by a regionally accented Muppet host who bore some resemblance to him.[10]

Smiley did make some appearances that didn't have anything notable to do with his hosting career. When Cookie Monster was in a bakery chewing up items that rhymed with the word "buy", Smiley came in announcing he was "Guy Smiley, star of daytime television." At this point, Cookie couldn't remember that it was a pie he was after, and the repeated use of words that did rhyme with "pie" did nothing to jog his memory. The scene ended with him wrongly realizing that the rhyming item was "GUY!", and chasing Smiley around the bakery, trying to eat his hand off.[11]

He also appeared in a sketch featuring Grover as an Elevator Operator. It was to teach kids to face the front of an elevator. In this sketch, "Mr. Smiley" (as Grover calls him) is also voiced by Jim Henson, but with a different voice than that of his game show personality.[12]

In one movie theatre skit with Bert and Ernie, using Smiley as a one-line extra, the character is puppeted by Richard Hunt.[13]

He also appeared in On Vacation With Guy Smiley, in which he tried to photograph various animals in the jungle, but his loud voice kept scaring them off. At least until a tiger (Martin P. Robinson) came along, roaring and scaring away Guy's guide (Richard Hunt), but the tiger took the camera and took Guy's picture with the other animals. His pith helmet was provided by Zimbabwe After Six. [14]

Smiley shows up as a non-speaking background extra (wearing an odd, unusually stern expression) along with many other Muppets in the musical skit "Some/None."[15]

Casting history[edit]

  • Main performers:
    • Jim Henson: Sesame Street Season 1 (1969) – Season 21 (1990)
    • Eric Jacobson: Sesame Street Presents: The Body (2005) – present
  • Alternate performers:
    • Steve Whitmire: Sesame Street Season 30 (1998)
    • Don Reardon: CD-ROM games


Sesame Street is localized for international markets, where Smiley is often renamed. In Portugal, for example, he's "Carlos Luz", a play on words with the name of television presenter Carlos Cruz. In the Netherlands, he is called "Henk Glimlach", "glimlach" meaning "smile". In Germany, he appears simply as "Robert", possibly after Robert Lembke, a well-known game show host.


  1. ^ Poniewozik, James (2007-09-17). Photographs by Greg Miller. "17 Shows That Changed TV". Time. 170 (12): 80. ISSN 0040-781X.
  2. ^ Sesame Street - Pick Your Pet
  3. ^ Sesame Street - The Mr. and Mrs. Game, YouTube
  4. ^ Sesame Street - What's My Part (Nose), YouTube
  5. ^ Sesame Street - What's My Part? (foot), YouTube
  6. ^ The Muppet Alphabet Album.....side 1 (YouTube)
  7. ^ Classic Sesame Street - What's My Letter? (YouTube)
  8. ^ Classic Sesame Street: Gone with the Wind (Castilian Spanish), YouTube
  9. ^ Gone with the Wind (Spanish soundtrack), YouTube
  10. ^ Classic Sesame Street: The Answer Lady, YouTube
  11. ^ Sesame Street: Cookie Monster Buys A Rhyme, YouTube
  12. ^ Sesame Street - Grover the Elevator Operator (front/back), YouTube
  13. ^ Classic Sesame Street - Ernie and Bert Watch an Emotional Movie, YouTube
  14. ^ Sesame Street: On Vacation with Guy Smiley, YouTube
  15. ^ Classic Sesame Street - Some and None, YouTube

External links[edit]