Today on “Days to Remember” we celebrate Sesame Street making its premier to the public on November 10th 1969.
Sesame Street is a long-running American children’s television series created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett. The program is known for its educational content, and images communicated through the use of Jim Henson’s Muppets, animation, short films, humor, and cultural references.
From its first episode, Sesame Street has structured its format by using “a strong visual style, fast-moving action, humor, and music,” as well as animation and live-action short films.
When Sesame Street premiered, most researchers believed that young children did not have long attention spans; therefore the new show’s producers were concerned that an hour-long show would not hold their audience’s attention.
Upon recommendations by child psychologists, the producers initially decided that the show’s human actors and Muppets would not interact because they were concerned it would confuse young children.
When the CTW tested the appeal of the new show, they found that although children paid attention to the shows during the Muppet segments, their interest was lost during the “Street” segments.
The producers requested that Henson and his team create Muppets such as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to interact with the human actors, and the Street segments were re-shot.
The first Muppet to appear on the show was Big Bird, an 8-foot-tall yellow bird believed by writer Shalom M. Fisch and Dr. Lewis Bernstein to be a canary, which resides in a large nest alongside the “123 Sesame Street” building and represents the 6-year-old child with his tendency to question everything.
Also living outside of the building is Oscar the Grouch, a trash can-dwelling creature belonging to his own unique species, which is portrayed as a habitual pessimist and was designed to give children “permission to feel grouchy and to demonstrate differing opinions”.
Big Bird’s best friend is Aloysius Snuffleupagus (better known as “Snuffy”), who was portrayed as the bird’s imaginary friend until revealed to the human cast in 1985.
Having watched the show myself my favorite two characters were Bert and Ernie, who have appeared on the show since its beginning are paired as best friends with contrasting personalities;
Ernie is portrayed as a free-spirited trickster who loves his rubber duck, while Bert is the world-weary foil to his friend’s naïve trouble-making, and shows himself, to be obsessed with things like pigeons and paper clips.
Today’s YouTube presentation brought to you by user name Veston Bruno is lovely portrayal of how Ernie and Bert interacted with each other on the show. As we celebrate the premiere of Sesame Street on November 10th.
One of the original human characters on the show, Mr. Hooper ran a general store that served as a focal point and served such fare as birdseed milkshakes. When actor Will Lee died of a heart attack in 1982, there was some debate by the show’s producers how to handle the situation.
Some leaned toward having the character retire, but eventually it was decided to deal with the issue. A child psychologist was consulted and the situation was handled gently, but head-on, with Big Bird unable to understand that his friend wasn’t coming back.
When Big Bird expresses concern that it “won’t be the same” without Mr. Hooper, another of the adults tells him “You’re right, Big Bird. It’ll never be the same without him. But you know something? We can all be very happy that we had a chance to be with him and to know him and to love him a lot, when he was here.”
Since its inception, over 74 million Americans have watched “Sesame Street.” Today, an estimated 8 million people tune in to the show each week in the U.S. alone, and just like the episode with Big Bird knowing his concerns for Mr. Hooper the grocer.
We can all relate how Sesame Street always brought a smile to our face, that we had a chance in our childhood to be a part of Sesame Street and its informative television segments, as we celebrate the debut of Sesame Street today.
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell