- This article is about the character. For the television series, see "Barney & Friends".
Barney is a purple dinosaur and the main protagonist of the television series Barney & Friends, and its home video predecessor Barney & The Backyard Gang. A two hundred million year (two dinosaur years) old, six-foot (sometimes seven-foot) tall purple tyrannosaurus-rex with a green tummy and green spots on his back and his tail and yellow toes, he comes to life through a child's imagination, springing up from a doll to full size. In turn, Barney opens children's eyes to the joys of learning and discovery, to the wonders of make-believe, and to the beauty of unconditional love. Dubbed as the "Elvis for Toddlers" in the early days, he is best known for his silly and optimistic attitude.
His birthplace is Dallas, Texas (as he was created there by the creators), however, he lives and resides in one's imagination. His place of residence would later be expanded in the video Come on Over to Barney's House (2000).
David Voss originally performed as the costume for Barney from 1988 to 1990, and was succeeded by David Joyner, who would later define the costume mannerisms of the character. The character has been succeeded by many other costume performers during Joyner's time and after his resignation. The Barney character was originally voiced by Bob West from 1988 until 2000, but since his resignation has been voiced by many other voice actors.
Barney was first created in 1987 by Sheryl Leach, who was looking for a way to entertain her then two year old son, Patrick. Originally, Barney was going to be a blanket. When that was proven to be too hard, he became a teddy bear who came to life. Patrick was fascinated by a dinosaur exhibit at a museum, particularly the Tyrannosaurus rex. In response, Sheryl made Barney a T. Rex. Kathy Parker, a fellow teacher-turned-mother who had helped Sheryl create the character, agreed to the change, but on the condition that he was not to appear menacing (a realistic t-rex would have scared her daughter Kaitlin). In the end, he was colored purple to appeal to both genders (Leach had a thing for the color purple as well) and had his features softened (i.e. "toe balls" in place of claws).
Some concept names for Barney were Cosby, Colby, and Danny. Co-creator Dennis DeShazer came up with the name Barney.
Around a table, the television show’s producers, creator, and the Irene Corey Costume Design team considered the possibilities for how the costume design would look, initially thinking of a plush dinosaur that closely resembled a Tyrannosaurus-Rex. The attributes first designed were approach-ability, “hug-ability,” and playfulness.
Barney was originally a dark purple color, however, on camera appeared blue. The color was adjusted, and was given a lighter purple / magenta color. The costume would weigh about seventy pounds, but was later shaved down to fifty pounds with the final costume. Inside the costume could get up to over 120 degrees. For the performer to walk around, the actor would look through Barney's mouth for vision. When the mouth was closed, the costume actor could not see anything, even for some variations of the costume, Barney would have its eye mechanism or blinking mechanism.
See Also: Barney Through the Years
Body Portrayal History
Originally the character was intended to be performed by one person in terms of doing the voice and being in the costume (similar to Big Bird). Bob West was the first individual hired to portray the character, however he was too tall for the costume that was already made. David Voss was brought in to fulfill the costume performance. The Barney character was originally portrayed as the actor using their hand to move the mouth while another hand was in one arm of the dinosaur, hence leaving Barney's other arm unfilled. Sometimes, both arms were filled (if required).
In 1990, he entered the military as a Cavalry Scout where he was based in Mannheim, He was succeeded in the role by David Joyner. The night before the audition, Joyner had a dream that Barney passed out and that he (Joyner) gave the purple dino mouth-to-mouth CPR. While driving to the audition, he noticed a billboard that said "Breathe Life Into Your Vacation," which made him think about breathing life into Barney and he decided to be as energetic and animated as possible. Joyner took some of what David Voss had already instilled in Barney and tried to bring out more personality.
The Barney character was now performed with a newly re-designed costume mechanic: the body performer bites down on a bar padded with a sponge connected to Barney's bottom jaw to move his mouth up and down, while giving access to both hands of the costume. Each syllable the voice actor speaks is a movement for the costume actor's to move the mouth. Joyner's mannerisms would later be carried on into other Barney performers during his time with the character and after.
The character would eventually grow to over seven feet when performed by Carey Stinson as he was one of the taller performers.
Voice Portrayal History
Barney's voice was originally very low pitched when he debuted in Barney & The Backyard Gang as the creators thought that since Barney was a big guy, he needed to have a deep voice. The voice was hard to maintain for West, but it was made cheerful when Joyner came into the costume, and it proved to be a more friendly voice. Following West's retirement, Duncan Brannan, Tim Dever, were handed the role of the character, and soon after Dean Wendt, making the final result of the character's voice nasal on the television series.
- David Voss (1988–1990)
- David Joyner (1991–2005)
- Carey Stinson (1991–2013, 2019)
- Josh Martin (1996–2009)
- Maurice Scott (1997-2004)
- Antwaun Steele (1999-2001, 2010-2011)
- Patrick Mcalister (2003-2008)
- Rick Starkweather (2003-2007)
- Bob West (1988–2000, 2005)
- David Franks (1996-1998)
- Duncan Brannan (1997–2000)
- Tim Dever (1999–2001)
- Dean Wendt (2001–2014, 2019)
See Also: Barney Voice Actors
- Barney was ranked at #3 for the highest paid entertainer, a list compiled by Forbes Magazine, in 1993-1994, following Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey.
- Barney was named one of People magazine's "25 Most Intriguing People of 1992"
- In 2007, Barney received a star on Paseo de las Luminarias, the Mexican equivalent of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- From 1996-1998, Barney ranked as Billboard's top children's artist.
- Barney become a Grammy nominated and a 3× Platinum artist due to his successful debut album, Barney's Favorites, Volume 1.
- See: Barney Discography
- In Barney & The Backyard Gang, Barney originally lived with Michael and Amy. In that series, Barney had to be kept a secret from the parents. That running gag lasted until Three Wishes where Michael and Amy's Mom is informed on who Barney is.
- Although he celebrates his birthday in the Barney franchise, he remains over 200 million years old.
- Barney first reached official pop culture status when he was parodied in a Saturday Night Live sketch in the fall of 1993. The Barney likeness played a game of one-on-one basketball against Phoenix Suns superstar Charles Barkley.
- During the filming of season one of Barney & Friends, Bob West had laryngitis. Jeff Gittle, a crew member of the show, would step in to read for West, in which he eventually dubbed over.
- Alan Bruce served as Barney's understudy in Barney Live! In New York City, however, he never filled in.
- Like the voices of Baby Bop and BJ, Barney was voiced by an unknown stand-in for the live show of Barney Live! World Tour - A Celebration!. Similar to Baby Bop, he was voiced by another unknown stand-in for the Fisher-Price toys that were released in 2018.
- Year of the dog, Dallas Observer, August 28, 1997
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