By Mallory C/Jan. 16, 2021 5:24 pm EST/Updated: Jan. 16, 2021 5:24 pm EST
Many '90s kids grew up adoring Steve Burns from the Nickelodeon children's show, Blue's Clues. The actor was famous for the green striped shirt he wore on the series and his full head of dark hair. From 1996 until 2002, Burns played the beloved owner of the Blue, a dog who loves to leave behind clues, for 100 episodes of the show.
On-screen, Steve left for college and the show continued with Steve's brother Joe (played by Donovan Patton) until 2006. In real life, Burns departed the series because he felt like it was time for a new chapter. In a 2016 HuffPost interview, Burns said that he left because "it was just simply time to go. I was pretty much playing a boyish, older-brotherish kind of character on the show."
Since his departure, Burns' appearance has gone through a transformation — and in recent photos, he looks nothing like affable dog-owner audiences loved in the '90s. Read on to find out how Burns' look has changed and what he's up to now.
Steve from Blue's Clues went bald
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Steve Burns' trademark dark locks are no more. Recent photos of him show off his 100 percent bald head, which is due to hair loss — something that the actor has been open about. During the 2006 Nickelodeon special Behind the Clues: 10 Years with Blue (via Business Insider), Burns admitted that his hair loss was actually the main reason he left Blue's Clues.
"I knew I wasn't going to be doing children's television all my life, mostly because I refused to lose my hair on a kid's TV show," Burns said. "And it was happening ... fast."
According to Entertainment Weekly, Burns started to lose his hair at age 29. Per the outlet, many rumors had floated around about Burns after his departure from Blue's Clues — like that he'd gotten into a car crash or turned to drugs. But the truth isn't quite so sensational. It seems he just wanted to go bald in private.
Steve Burns had long locks at his Blue's Clues audition
During his original audition, Steve Burns actually had a totally different hairstyle and looked nothing like the series' eventual Steve character. In a 1999 interview with The New York Times, Burns says he had long hair and an earring, looking like a "skate rat." At the time, he mostly auditioned for voice-over roles, so he thought his appearance didn't matter, according to Spin Magazine.
Network executives weren't a fan of his grungy look, but Burns was the clear favorite of Nickelodeon's pre-school test audiences. Blue's Clues creator and executive producer Traci Paige Johnson told Spin Magazine, "Of the 100 people we auditioned, he was, by far, the realest. He loved kids, but he didn't want to make a career out of it."
And that turned out to be true. While Burns spent five successful years on Blue's Clues, he moved on in 2002 and pursued his next chapter: music.
Steve Burns worked with this famous band
In his post-Blue's Clues life, Steve Burns has pursued many of his passions, including music. A year after leaving the Nickelodeon series, Burns released his first album, Songs for Dustmites, which he worked on with various members of the band The Flaming Lips. The album's song, "Mighty Little Man" (featuring Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips) became the theme song to the CBS sitcom, Young Sheldon.
In 2009, Burns released his second album Deep Sea Recovery Efforts with his band, The Struggle. Meanwhile, he continued acting, too. According to IMDb, Burns appeared in the movies Netherbeast Incorporated and Christmas on Mars, along with the TV series Young Sheldon and The Professionals.
Eventually, Burns found his way back to appearing on Blue's Clues — even braving the show with his new bald head.
Steve returned to Blue's Clues with his new look
Steve Burns is still on good terms with Blue's Clues and has returned to its universe several times. In 2019, Burns guest-starred in the premiere of Nickelodeon's revival series, Blue's Clues & You, now starring Josh Dela Cruz. Burns appeared along with Steve's on-screen brother Joe (played by Donovan Patton).
During the premiere episode, Blue's clues stump Josh, so he calls his cousins Joe and Steve for help. In a trick of clever costuming, Steve doesn't appear bald, though — he sports a tie, a trench coat, and a fedora hat to hide his lack of hair from the audience. But even though he looked way more adult in the episode, Steve showed kids that he still carries around a handy dandy notebook to take down clues.
Burns made a second appearance in December 2020, reprising his role in the Blues Clues & You holiday episode. The character Steve returns — this time, wearing a Santa hat — to help Blue and Josh decorate their Christmas tree.
Burns' look has definitely transformed over the years, but it's nice to see that he'll always have a place in the Blue's Clues world.