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Gay Kiwi co-created Sesame Street's Big Bird

Sun 14 Oct 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News

Big Bird and Kermit Love as Sesame Street character Willie. No images of Christopher Lyall are available. A gay Christchurch-born dancer and his partner were the creators, it has emerged, of the much-loved Sesame Street character of Big Bird. In the wake of controversy surrounding the use of Big Bird by the Obama presidential election campaign, it has been revealed that its co-creator, who is living a quiet life in retirement in Christchurch, is unhappy with its use for politial purposes. Kiwi dancer Christopher Lyall and his partner Kermit Love created the outsize bird costume in 1969 from a basic sketch by Muppet founder Jim Henson. Lyall created the frame for the almost three metre high character which was worn by an actor. Love was responsible for the outer appearance of the bird. Love was also a regular actor on the internationally-screened Sesame Street show, playing Willie, the neighbourhood hotdog vendor. Lyall had earlier worked in Millers department store in Christchurch before heading to the UK where he met Love in London while they were auditioning for a West End show. The pair gravitated to New York, living together for fifty years before Love died, in 2008.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Sunday, 14th October 2012 - 2:42pm

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