Based on the antics of a giant all-singing, all-dancing, purple T. rex, Barney and Friends is one of America’s all-time most popular educational kids shows. But chances are you’re unfamiliar with the man who originally played the loveable anthropomorphic star. Here’s a look at the entertainer behind the 70-pound costume.
The brainchild of ex-teacher Sheryl Leach, Barney and Friends first began as a home video series before moving to PBS in 1992. Despite becoming an immediate hit, PBS very nearly canceled the show at the end of its first 30-episode run. But an outcry from local stations led PBS to reconsider, and the show remained on air until 2009.
Each Barney and Friends episode adhered to a rigid structure. The titular dinosaur would always transform from a stuffed toy into the real thing, going on to educate a group of young schoolkids about a particular subject, often through song. After telling everyone, “I love you,” Barney then reverted to his original form while the children talked about their learnings.