Blue's Clues Turns 20: Can You Guess What Host Steve Burns Is Up to These Days?

We'll give you a clue—the former children's show host did not die of a heroin overdose

By Rebecca Macatee Sep 08, 2016 12:00 PMTags

Hi, out there! Say, do you know what today is?

We'll give you a clue—actually, scratch that, you might be a little rusty after all these years, so we'll just tell you: It's the 20th anniversary of Blue's Clues!

Indeed, on this very day 20 years ago, a friendly cartoon dog named Blue and her affable human best friend Steve made their television debut of Nickelodeon. In no time at all, Steve (whose real name is Steve Burns) had kids playing Blue's Clues in living rooms across the country. Pre-schoolers were pumped to sing along and parents were thrilled to see their toddlers learning from the TV.

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Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper were colloquially charming, and their daughter Paprika was quite the saucy little thing. Mailbox always had us laughing with his jokes, and who didn't just love Shovel and Pail? Blue's Clues was filled with colorful characters, but it was the green striped shirt-wearing, 23-year-old guy named Steve who really made the magic happen—right up until 2002.


In an episode called "Steve Goes to College," Steve introduced viewers to his brother Joe (played by actor Donovan Patton). Joe, Steve said, would be taking over things at the Blue's Clues house—it was a sensible explanation, but for whatever reason, it didn't sit well with the Steve-loving public.

Even though Steve's departure happened before the social media era, rumors about why he really left spread like wildfire. Playground gossip had kids fearing Blue's best friend had died IRL, and parents were subject to all kinds of hoaxes about Steve's untimely death.

Fortunately Steve (Burns, the human) is a nice guy (like Steve, his Blue's Clues character) and felt it was important to clear things up. As documented by, he appeared on NBC's Today Show as well as The Rosie O'Donnell Show to reassure parents he hadn't died of a heroin overdose and let kids know all was A-OK with their problem-solving pal.

In reality, Steve passed along his Handy Dandy Notebook to Joe so he could pursue a career in music. He released his first album, Songs for Dustmites, shortly after his Blue's Clues departure. He went on to collaborate with several artists from The Flaming Lips and later started a band, Steve Burns and the Struggle. His second album was released in 2009.

The now 42-year-old entertainer has acted in a handful of indie films and smaller projects since his Blue's Clues days. He lives in Brooklyn these days and is quite a social media presence. He regularly jokes about the seemingly never-ending rumors of his early demise on Twitter, too.

Steve's certainly branched out of the typical kid show host mold, but he's grateful to have been a part of Blue's Clues. "I don't think [being on the show] has caused any sort of credibility deficit," he once said on the Today Show. "I think it's an amazing children's television show...I'm incredibly proud to have been even involved in it. I think coming from kids TV, it just makes the story more interesting."

Agreed. Now where's the mail?