Bert and Ernie, the famous same-sex pair from Sesame Street, were written as a gay couple, according to one of the writers Mark Saltzman.
Saltzman joined the team back in 1984 and was in a relationship with film editor Arnold Glassman until his death in 2003. He is now speaking out about his time working for the children’s program and how he intended to portray Bert and Ernie.
In an interview Saltzman said: “I remember one time that a column from the San Francisco Chronicle, a pre-schooler in the city turned to mom and asked, ‘Are Bert & Ernie lovers?’ And that, coming from a pre-schooler was fun. And that got passed around, and everyone had their chuckle and went back to it. And I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were. I didn’t have any other way to contextualize them.”
A lot of people often saw the similarities between the two puppets and Mark and Arnold.
“The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie & I as ‘Bert & Ernie…Yeah, I was Ernie. I look more Bert-ish. And Arnie as a film editor—if you thought of Bert with a job in the world, wouldn’t that be perfect? Bert with his paper clips and organization? And I was the jokester. So, it was the Bert & Ernie relationship, and I was already with Arnie when I came to Sesame Street. So, I don’t think I’d know how else to write them, but as a loving couple. I wrote sketches…Arnie’s OCD would create friction with how chaotic I was. And that’s the Bert & Ernie dynamic.”