A Sesame Street writer has confirmed he wrote Bert and Ernie as a “loving couple”.
Mark Saltzman, who worked on the iconic childrens show for 15 years, has addressed the long-running theory that beloved roommates Bert and Ernie were in a relationship, telling Queerty that they were inspired by his own relationship.
“I remember one time that a column from The San Francisco Chronicle, a preschooler in the city turned to mom and asked, ‘Are Bert and Ernie lovers?’ And that, coming from a preschooler was fun,” he said.
“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 and Ernie, they were. I didn’t have any other way to contextualise them.”
Saltzman was in a relationship with film editor Arnold ‘Arnie’ Glassman for over two decades until Glassman’s death in 2003. Seltzman says that people would often compare their relationship to Bert and Ernie’s.
“The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie and I as Bert and Ernie,” he continued.
“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 organisation? And I was the jokester.
“So it was the Bert and 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.”
In the end, Seltzman says the two beloved characters became counterparts to his own relationship with Arnie.
“That’s what I had in my life, a Bert and Ernie relationship,” he said. “How could it not permeate? The things that would tick off Arnie would be the things that would tick off Bert. How could it not?”