Twilight Sparkle's Retro Media Library
Twilight Sparkle's Retro Media Library

Note: This page only covers the Backyard Gang video series, the first three seasons on PBS, and Season 3½ on video.


The show is about a friendly purple dinosaur who comes to life when children use their imaginations. They sing songs, do fun activities, and lots more, all related to education.


Character's name Portrayed by Years active
  • Bob West (voice)
  • David Voss (costume #1)
  • David Joyner (costume #2)
Baby Bop
  • Julie Johnson (voice)
  • Dao Knight (early costume)
  • Jenny Dempsey (Season 1 costume)
  • Jeff Ayers (Season 2-3 costume)
  • Patty Wirtz (voice)
  • Jenny Dempsey (Season 2 costume)
  • Jeff Brooks (Season 3 costume)
Michael Brian Eppes 1988-1993
Amy Becky Swonke 1988-1991
Tina Jessica Zucha 1988-1995
Luci Leah Gloria 1988-1993
Derek Rickey Carter 1990-1995
Adam Alexander Jhin 1988-1991
Kathy Lauren King 1991-1995
Shawn John David Bennett 1992-1996
Min Pia Manalo 1992-1996
Tosha Hope Cervantes 1992-1996
Julie Susannah Wetzel 1993-1995
David Kenny Cooper 1993
Jason Kurt Dykhuizen 1993-1996
Carlos Corey Lopez 1994-1996
Juan Michael Krost 1995
Kenneth Nathan Regan 1995
Mr. Boyd Robert Sweatman 1995-2008
Stella the Storyteller Phyllis Cicero 1995-2008

In 1998, the News in Purple section of the Barney Online website launched short autobiographies for five of the past cast members, who would all later appear in a video special released on January 12, 1999.

Kurt Dykhuizen (Jason) "My name is Kurt Dykhuizen and I play Jason on Barney & Friends. Things I love to do include playing sports. I especially like to play soccer, tennis, and basketball. I enjoy playing with my brother, Kyle, my friends, and my two dogs. In the summer I love fishing, and water-skiing, at my grandparent's lake house. I also like to run with my Dad. My interests are cars, yo-yo's, dogs, and nature. I would love to continue acting but probably not as my primary career when I am older. I would like to be a surgeon, veterinarian, architect, artist, or professional athlete."
Lauren King (Kathy) "Hi everyone, my name is Lauren, and I am 13 years old. At 5 1/2 I was chosen for the role of Kathy for the video Rock with Barney and the TV series Barney and Friends. One of my greatest memories was traveling to New York City to appear in the Barney Live at Radio City Music Hall concert. This summer I was back on the Barney set performing in a 10th anniversary video (Sing and Dance with Barney). I am still acting and doing commercials. I have won awards for dance, vocal, and piano. I am an 8th grade honor student and participate in school sports and music. I have a mom, dad, and a cute little peekapoo dog named Minnie."

"Some of my favorite activities are:"

  • Soccer
  • Gymnastics
  • Shopping
  • The movie Titanic
  • The group 'N Sync (I want to meet them in person)
  • Shania Twain
  • Most any beach
  • I love to eat crab legs
  • My best advice is: "Reach for the stars and dream what you want to be."
Brian Eppes (Michael) Brian was one of the original characters with Barney, beginning at the age of 8 and working until he was 13. He began his acting career at the age of 2 and has worked in television, theater, movies, radio and print. After Barney, he decided not to continue with acting so he could concentrate on academics and sports. He grew up in Texas, and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Arlington High School in May 1997. Brian played baseball and football in school for several years and was active in the Student Council. During the summer breaks he worked for his Father's company, Southwest Networks, as a lead technician installing fiber optic and data cable systems Brian also worked for the Texas Rangers Baseball Team. Brian is now attending a large University, majoring in Meteorology. Maybe some day we will see him as a weatherman on TV! He is an advanced scuba diver, and his favorite diving locations are the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean. He also enjoys snow skiing, fishing, hunting, watching sports on TV, and playing his guitar. Brian keeps in touch with his "Barney" family and continues to enjoy hearing from lots of "Michael" fans.
Pia Manalo (Min) "I am currently in the 11th grade and at the top 10% of my class. I am involved in many clubs and school organizations. In my free time, I dance and play the piano. I attend several dance conventions and competitions as well. I hope to pursue acting after college, and dance in my spare time."
Hope Cervantes (Tosha) "I am continuing to pursue my acting career. I currently perform with my Theatre Department at the school I am attending. I also volunteer for several community service organizations.In my spare time, I enjoy reading poetry, playing soccer, shopping for vintage clothing (I love the retro seventies look), playing with my two cats Dusty & Sachi. I also like playing sports with my two brothers. I have always been fascinated with science. I plan to pursue a career in the science field someday. My favorite color is purple, my favorite food is pizza. My favorite snack is a pickle (I have at least one a day)."

Autobiographies for three more alumni appeared later in 1999:

Corey Lopez (Carlos)
(April 1999)
"Hi, my name is Corey Lopez and I played Carlos on the Barney & Friends TV show. I am now 14 years old. I live in Dallas, and am attending the eighth grade. Next year I will be entering high school. Since Barney, I have pursued my acting career in many ways. Besides acting, I enjoy doing other things. I play football, basketball, and baseball for my school. Outside of school, I play on a soccer team. I also enjoy tap dancing and hip hop music. I hope to someday meet Savion Glover. The first thing I did with Barney was Barney Live at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. After Barney Live, I came back and was on the regular series. I think that was the best experience in my life! My future holds college and hopefully Broadway.
Jessica Zucha (Tina)
(Fall 1999)
"Hi, Barney fans. I have really missed all of you over the past few years. I was one of the original characters with Barney playing the role of Tina. In 1987, I auditioned in Dallas for this role. Much to my surprise, I landed the part at the young age of five. I played Tina for 8 years. In 1995, I went back to Houston, TX and returned to my public school."

Jessica's fondest memories of the Backyard Gang:

  • Celebrating her 10-year birthday party with the cast and crew during a lunch break.
  • When Brian Eppes (Michael) played with her Baby Alive toy!
  • When Leah Gloria (Luci) and Lauren King (Kathy) treated her to a birthday dinner at a Mexican restaurant.
  • In 1998, she was a sophomore in high school and involved in many activities, such as a student council, National Thespian Society, and the Dance Team. Outside of school she played a role in a summer production of Grease. She also spent a lot of time with her 3-year-old brother.

Her hobbies:

  • Talking on the phone, and spending time, with her friends
  • Driving her new Honda Civic
  • Reading novels and especially works by William Shakespeare
  • Her plans in the early 2000s were to attend college and receive a degree in Theatre Arts, and to pursue a degree in law specializing in litigation.
  • A photo of her Quincianera celebration from October 1997 was also seen on the Barney Online website.

Her famous quote: "A winner never quits and a quitter never wins."

John David Bennett II (Shawn)
(February 2000)
Hi everybody, my real name is John David Bennett II, but I go by JD. I am now 14 going on 15 and am in the 8th grade. I did Barney for 5 years and it was sooo cool! I started working with Barney on my 7th birthday. I didn't know a soul, but they threw me a great big birthday party the first day anyway and made me feel very welcome. I made a lot of great friends over the years and had sooo much fun! I have continued to do a lot of acting since I left Barney and have a movie that should be released this summer. Filming schedules for the movie is why I could not be on the 10th Anniversary video. The movie is called Certain Guys and has a bunch of people in it you will recognize, but the person you will know best is Deidrich Bader from the Drew Carey show. He plays the part of Oswald, Drew's tall, good looking, funny, dark haired sidekick. I am also the cohost of a new television series called Mark's Web World. It is a fun show and is sort of like Bill Nye the Science Guy meets Laugh In. We explore all the neat web sites that are out there. Keep watching, you might also see me in a number of commercials. I hope to continue doing TV, stage and movie work and would one day like to be a Director. It is hard to work much acting into my busy schedule. I run track, play soccer, I sing in Showtime (my Jr. High performance choir), love to scuba dive (Cayman is the best!!), rollerblade, play on my iMac, surf the web, and of course I just love being a kid and bugging my sisters and parents. I have 2 dogs and 3 ferrets. I loved my time on Barney and still love to hear from all the Shawn fans."

All content was removed by Lyons Partnership when the website was redesigned in early 2001.

Production timeline

  • 1987: Sheryl Stamps Leach created Barney the dinosaur, after her son, Patrick, was more interested in dinosaurs. Originally, Barney was going to be a teddy bear. The creation of Barney was helped and approved by Kathy Parker, on a few conditions, where the dinosaur had to be a gender-neutral color and was to not appear menacing.
  • 1988: Bob West, the voice of Barney, and the first six kids auditioned for the show. Barney's costume actor was David Voss.
  • 1989: One of the kids -- Jason (Salim Grant), in this case, was replaced by Derek (Rickey Carter).
  • 1990: For this year, Barney became a magenta-purple color.
  • Early 1991: David Joyner replaced David Voss as Barney's costume actor. Kathy (Lauren King) joins the gang.
  • October 1991: The TV series began production, starting with Season 1. Min, Shawn, and later Tosha join the gang, while Adam and Amy leave the show permanently.

List of episodes

Broadcast history

Main article: Television broadcast timeline for Barney & Friends

Funding credits

Underwriter's name Season 1 Season 2 Seasons 3+
Corporation for Public Broadcasting 1992-1998 1993-1998 1995-1998
"Viewers Like You" 1992-1999 1993-1999 1995-1999
Kimberly-Clark 1994-1998 1993-1998 N
Chuck E. Cheese's 1995-1999 1997-1999 1995-1999
Mead Johnson 1995-1997 1997-1998 1995-1997
Chef Jr. 1997-1999
Kellogg's Frosted Flakes 1998-1999 1997-1999

From 1998 through 2005, there were no new underwriters for Barney & Friends.

Home video timeline

Main article: List of Barney Home Videos