As a kid, it was fun to pretend Barney was a real dinosaur and Sesame Street‘s Big Bird was an actual gigantic bird, but now that we’re adults, we know the harsh reality — that those characters were played by sweaty actors in uncomfortable costumes.
And although these performers, who range from puppeteers to dancers to even stand-up comedians, have all made huge contributions to our childhood nostalgia, we’ve never even seen their faces — until now.
If you’ve ever wondered who’s the really tall guy who plays Big Bird or why Demi Lovato called the guy inside the Barney suit “hot,” here’s what all the actors of classic childhood characters look like when they’re not in costume.
The man inside the Barney costume is David Joyner.
We thought it was a little unusual when Demi, who used to act on Barney and Friends when she was a child, referred to the guy who played Barney as “hot.” That’s not a word we normally associate with big, purple dinosaurs.
“Barney was actually very attractive inside the suit,” she said on The Late Show in 2017. “I’ve always gone for older guys, so even when I was younger, I thought the guy in the suit was hot.”
Now that we know what he looks like, we can kind of see Demi’s point. Today, David still acts regularly on TV and most recently appeared in Veep and Shameless.
The man inside the Big Bird costume is Carroll Spinney.
It’s hard to believe, but the iconic yellow bird from Sesame Street has been played by the same guy since 1969. That’s 48 years! And at 83 years old, he has no interest in retiring anytime soon. He also plays Oscar the Grouch.
The man inside the bear in Bear in the Big Blue House is Noel MacNeal.
Youtube, Getty Images
The 55-year-old puppeteer is behind many of your favorite childhood characters, from Sesame Street to even The Puzzle Place. Remember Eureka’s Castle? He played Magellan.
Today he often does puppet work on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. He also has his own show, The Show Me Show.
The actors inside the Teletubbies were these folks.
It’s hard to believe The Teletubbies turned 16 years old this year. The actors inside the costumes were an eclectic mixture of British actors. Laa Laa was played by actress Nikky Smedley, Tinky Winky was played by dancer Simon Shelton, Po was played by actress Pui Fan Lee, and Dipsy was played by comedian John Simmit. They revealed their identities for the first time in 2010 when they all did a group interview together.
And being in those big costumes wasn’t very fun either.
“Wrap about 14 blankets around yourself, tie a bag of coal to your head, cover up your face so that you can’t see or breathe, go into a sauna, jump up and down for 11 hours and be really, really happy about it,” Nikky described the experience.
We suddenly have a new appreciation for them.
The men inside Bananas in Pajamas are Nicholas Opolski and Ken Radley.
Remember this show? It originally aired in Australia, and was later syndicated in the U.S. throughout the mid to late ’90s. As for the actors inside the suits? Just a couple of Aussies, obviously. Both of them have starred in various TV shows and sitcoms.
The man inside Alf was Michu Meszaros.
We know what you’re thinking. “Wasn’t Alf a puppet?” Yes and no. For the majority of the quirky ’80s sitcom, he was a puppet, but for parts of the show that required full-body shots and physical action, he was played by two-foot, nine-inch Hungarian performer Michu. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2016 at the age of 76.