As the host of Nickelodeon’s innovative Blue’s Clues, Steve Burns became a favorite of pre-schoolers and parents alike. However, he left them stunned in 2002 when he quit the show at the height of its popularity. More than a decade and a half on here’s a look at some of the things you may not know about the star.
20. Going bald inspired him to quit the show
A receding hairline convinced Burns to wave goodbye to the show which had made him a star. The entertainer had wanted to shave his head for some time but was stopped by producers who didn’t want a bald man fronting one of their biggest hits. Burns finally got his hands on some clippers the day after he quit.
19. Nickelodeon hated his initial look
Nickelodeon executives also weren’t too keen on the look that Burns sported during his first audition for the show. In fact, the star had something of a skate rat image – complete with an earring and long hair. Blue’s Clues creators subsequently asked him to dress more conservatively, deeming the style to be inappropriate for a pre-school audience.
18. He was the subject of several death hoaxes
Burns found himself at the center of some unwanted media attention following his departure. In fact, the star was repeatedly and wrongly said to have died. A fatal heroin overdose was just one of the many rumors that floated around. Burns later appeared on The Rosie O’Donnell Show to let fans know that he remained well and truly alive.
17. He was rumored to have become a porn star
A drug overdose wasn’t the only rumor that threatened to destroy Burns’ squeaky-clean reputation forever. After leaving Blue’s Clues, the star was also wrongly reported to have been arrested for heroin possession. Perhaps most damagingly of all, there was also gossip that he had decided to become a porn star!
16. He played in a Morrissey rip-off band
Burns has largely focused on music since leaving the show, but he first began performing in bands while in high school. Nine Pound Truck, Sudden Impact U.S. and The Ivys were just some of the groups that he honed his talents with as a youngster. The latter has since been self-described as a “Morrissey rip-off band.”
15. He was once named one of America’s most eligible bachelors
Burns probably wouldn’t have been the first man you’d think of when it came to potential celebrity suitors in the year 2000. Nevertheless, he still made it onto People magazine’s annual list of the country’s most eligible bachelors. Writer Diane Tracy claimed that he was far more appealing than your typical children’s TV host because of his offbeat humor.
14. He’s guested on two hit US dramas
Blue’s Clues may have been the show that launched Burns to fame, but it wasn’t the first time he’d appeared on screen. He made his TV debut playing Kevin Jeffries on a 1995 episode of Law & Order. Burns also guested as David Tarnofski on gritty cop show Homicide: Life on the Street in 1998.
13. He played a vampire in a Dave Foley film
Burns has also added to his filmography since leaving Blue’s Clues. In 2006 he starred alongside Dave Foley as a vampire in the horror comedy Netherbeast Incorporated. Two years later he showed up as an astronaut in the surreal sci-fi movie Christmas on Mars.
12. He’s worked with several members of The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips were an integral part of Burns’ 2003 debut album, Songs for Dustmites. Drummer Steven Drozd helped with the arrangements, bassist Michael Ivins served as engineer and stalwart collaborator David Fridmann produced it. Burns also later teamed up with Drozd and A Million Billion’s Ryan Smith to form Steve Burns and the Struggle.
11. He took 12 years to record a children’s album
Burns also began working with Steven Drozd on a children’s album in 2005. But the pair took an incredible 12 years to actually release it. Indeed, Foreverywhere only hit the shelves in 2017 due to the duo’s rather leisurely schedule. They apparently only ever worked on the record when they had a free weekend.
10. He’s written a song about how to poop
Burns and Drozd recorded under the name STEVENSTEVEN. Songs on their Foreverywhere album include “The Unicorn And Princess Rainbow,” “The Happy Then Sad Then Triumphant Spider” and “A Fact Is A Gift That You Give Your Brain.” However, their most popular tune was one about how best to poop, titled “OK Toilet Bowl.”
9. He’s also written music for Jack’s Big Music Show
Foreverywhere isn’t the only time that Burns and Drozd have collaborated for a children’s project. In 2005 the Blue’s Clues host asked the Flaming Lips drummer to help write a song for kids’ show Jack’s Big Music Show. The pair enjoyed it so much that they decided to work on an entire album together.
8. He has described filming Blue’s Clues as being “maddening”
Burns has always been very vocal about how proud he is of Blue’s Clues. But that doesn’t mean that he always found filming the show a pleasure. The star admits that presenting in front of a blue screen was often “maddening,” and has even compared the process to “acting at the bottom of a swimming pool.”
7. He never wanted to be a children’s TV host
Given the blue screen and the challenges presented by his baldness, Burns did well to make it to 100 episodes of Blue’s Clues. The star has even admitted that he never actually wanted to be a children’s TV host, in fact. He once said that although he loves kids, he knew he couldn’t make a permanent career out of entertaining them.
6. He kept a couple of Blue’s Clues souvenirs
Nevertheless, Burns made sure that there will always be a little piece of Blue’s Clues at home. The star was given the original Thinking Chair by the show’s producers for his 25th birthday in 1999. He also still owns his famous rugby shirt – although he admits that it no longer fits.
5. He has a custom-made Brooklyn loft
Those Blue’s Clues souvenirs are kept safe in one pretty impressive custom-built pad. Indeed, although Burns has largely kept a low profile since the show ended, he doesn’t appear to have any money worries. In fact, the star owns a swanky loft in the hipster Mecca of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
4. His performance was inspired by a classic ’80s movie
Burns had an unusual mix of inspirations for his Blue’s Clues role. There was Grover from Sesame Street and silver screen-legend Fred Rogers. There was also the final scene from ’80s classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in which Matthew Broderick talks directly to the camera.
3. He was nominated for a Daytime Emmy
Burns received his first and only major awards recognition in 2001 at the 28th Daytime Emmy Awards. He was nominated for “Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series” alongside Even Stevens’ Donna Pescow, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’s Fred Rogers and Sesame Street’s Kevin Clash, aka Elmo. But they all lost out to Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton.
2. He once unknowingly dated a stripper
After gracing People’s bachelor list, Burns bagged a date with a swimsuit model where he got more than he bargained for. Indeed, the star later found out that she was also a stripper. And after dropping her off at home, the woman’s mother then pitched him an idea for a children’s TV show.
1. He’s obsessed with Walmart
It’s not exactly the most harmful addiction, but Burns appears to be slightly obsessed with Walmart. The star regularly takes to Twitter – using the tongue-in-cheek handle @SteveBurnsAlive – to discuss his love of the retail giant. On one occasion he actually referred to his shopping cart as “bae.”