Thanks to Mitt Romney, Big Bird has become a symbol of the 2012 election, but did you know that Sesame Street's most iconic resident was created by a gay couple?
Christopher Lyall, who created the 8-foot 2-inch bird with his former partner, the late Kermit Love, told The Daily Beast it was "amazing" that their creation has become a factor in the election. Still, he said it was "very frustrating having to observe the political games and the lies."
President Obama's campaign created an ad Tuesday, attacking Romney for threatening to cut funding to PBS, particularly Big Bird's home, Sesame Street. The ad is tongue-in-cheek, but the producers of the show have asked the Obama campaign to pull the ad, to avoid politicizing the show and its characters.
Love and Lyall were commissioned by Muppet master Jim Henson to create Big Bird based on a sketch of the toy birds that repeatedly dip their beaks into a glass of water. The pair created the bird, composed of Lyall's structure of nylon boning sheathed in muslin with piles of yellow feathers sewn on. The key components were the eyes on this tall creature, ensuring that they were angled just right to make contact with the person with whom Big Bird speaks.
“[Kermit] was very particular about the way the bird looked, and he always got his way,” Lyall told The Daily Beast. “He was a very determined person.”
The couple continually made new birds for broadcasts, events, concerts, films, and countless additional appearances. But by the late 1990s, Love became ill, and Lyall stayed by his side. Love died of congestive heart failure at age 92 in 2008, prompting Lyall to move to his home country, New Zealand.