Roscoe Orman

Performer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-hour Archive interview, Roscoe Orman discusses his childhood in the Bronx and chronicles his theater work at the start of his career. He recounts his participation in the Civil Rights Movement, and recalls meeting Martin Luther King, Jr. Orman then details his three decades playing "Gordon Robinson" on the groundbreaking children's series Sesame Street. He describes how he won the role, which puppets are his favorites, and what he believes the legacy of Sesame Street will be. Orman shares some of his favorite episodes and storylines from the program, including the memorable "Farewell, Mr. Hooper" episode and the adoption of "Gordon's" son, "Milo." He also touches on his television work on All My Children, Sanford and Son, Sex and the City and Kojak. Karen Herman conducted the interview on July 20, 2004 at the Sesame Workshop in New York, NY.

"I used to really be shocked when people would tell me that I was their first real teacher, or it was because of me and because of 'Sesame Street' in particular, that they became who they are in terms of choosing their profession or really  beginning to love learning....It's still very humbling to hear that kind of thing and to know that I've had a part in it in some way." 

Highlights
Roscoe Orman on his Sesame Street character "Gordon"
03:46
Roscoe Orman on learning to relate to Muppets, and to the kids on Sesame Street
02:39
Roscoe Orman on Jim Henson and how "Ernie" even more so than "Kermit" represented Jim
02:58
Roscoe Orman on Carroll Spinney's "Big Bird" and "Oscar the Grouch"
02:18
Roscoe Orman on Sesame Street's: "Farewell, Mr. Hooper"
01:13
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on growing up in the Bronx; on his talent for drawing; on performing in school plays; on performing off-Broadway during his senior year of high school
On attending the Manhattan School of Music; on joining Actors Equity; on his first television appearance - in Philadelphia; on Matt Robinson, the original "Gordon" on Sesame Street
On his early recollections of television; on meeting Roy Rogers; on his awareness of the lack of diversity on television during his childhood; on his early stage performances; on joining the Free Southern Theater and getting arrested in the segregated South for trying to integrate a New Orleans bar; on joining the New Lafayette Theater in Harlem

Chapter 2

On meeting Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights Leaders in the South; on acting and directing at the New Lafayette Theater in Harlem; on starring in the film Willie Dynamite in Hollywood
On Morgan Freeman on The Electric Company; on returning to New York Theater; on how he got his start on Sesame Street; on his audition for "Gordon" on Sesame Street; on his first days on Sesame Street and trying to win over the kids on set; on the Muppets/puppets he relates to best

Chapter 3

On Kevin Clash and "Elmo;" on "Grover" being his favorite puppet; on Jim Henson; on Carroll Spinney's "Big Bird" and "Oscar the Grouch; " on "Trash Gordon;" on his character - "Gordon" on Sesame Street
On rules for playing "Gordon;" on feedback from parents; on "Gordon's" relationship with "Susan" on Sesame Street; on Sesame Street's: "Farewell, Mr. Hooper" in which the characters explain to "Big Bird" that Mr. Hooper died; on important Sesame Street storylines;
Roscoe Orman on some of his favorite guests on Sesame Street; on his memory of Ray Charles' appearance on the show

Chapter 4

On the legacy of Sesame Street; on Joan Ganz Cooney; on his role on All My Children; on his role on Sanford and Son; on his appearance on Sex and the City
On his appearance on Kojak; on advice to an aspiring actor; on people recognizing him
Shows

All My Children

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Roscoe Orman on his role on All My Children
02:32

Amos 'N' Andy

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Roscoe Orman on his awareness of the lack of diversity on television during his childhood
01:19

Cosby Show, The

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Roscoe Orman on Matt Robinson, the original "Gordon" on Sesame Street and later head writer for The Cosby Show
02:43

Electric Company, The

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Roscoe Orman on Morgan Freeman on The Electric Company
01:00

Kojak

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Roscoe Orman on his appearance on Kojak
01:00

Sanford and Son

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Roscoe Orman on his role on Sanford and Son
00:43

Sesame Street

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Roscoe Orman on how he got his start on Sesame Street
06:56
Roscoe Orman on his first days on Sesame Street and trying to win over the kids on set
03:45
Roscoe Orman on the Jim Henson puppeteers, Muppets he relates to best, and working with Frank Oz and Kevin Clash on Sesame Street
02:53
Roscoe Orman on the puppeteers, puppets, and characters of Sesame Street
28:33
Roscoe Orman on Sesame Street's: "Farewell, Mr. Hooper"
01:13
Roscoe Orman on the legacy of Sesame Street
02:21
Roscoe Orman on people recognizing him as "Gordon" on Sesame Street
03:18

Sesame Street: "Farewell, Mr. Hooper"

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Roscoe Orman on Sesame Street's: "Farewell, Mr. Hooper"
01:13

Sex and the City

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Roscoe Orman on his appearance on Sex and the City
00:52
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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Roscoe Orman on his audition for "Gordon" on Sesame Street and meeting with writer Jon Stone
04:38
Roscoe Orman on his Sesame Street character "Gordon"
03:46

Civil Rights Movement

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Roscoe Orman on meeting Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights Leaders in the South; on TV news coverage of the movement
05:41

Diversity in Television

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Roscoe Orman on his awareness of the lack of diversity on television during his childhood
01:19

Minorities

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Roscoe Orman on his awareness of the lack of diversity on television during his childhood
01:19
Roscoe Orman on "Gordon's" relationship with "Susan" on Sesame Street
02:26
Professions

Actor

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Roscoe Orman on loving performing for a live audience
01:02
Genres

Children's Programming

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Roscoe Orman on his first days on Sesame Street and trying to win over the kids on set Orman on
03:45
Roscoe Orman on the Jim Henson puppeteers, Muppets he relates to best, and working with Frank Oz and Kevin Clash on Sesame Street
02:53
Roscoe Orman on his audition for "Gordon" on Sesame Street and meeting with writer Jon Stone
04:38
Roscoe Orman on Kevin Clash, "Elmo," and "Hoots the Owl"
05:17
Roscoe Orman on his Sesame Street character "Gordon" and the characteristics writer Jon Stone told him "Gordon" should have
03:46
Roscoe Orman on Sesame Street's: "Farewell, Mr. Hooper"
01:13
Roscoe Orman on Carroll Spinney's "Big Bird" and "Oscar the Grouch"
02:18
Roscoe Orman on the legacy of Sesame Street
02:21
Roscoe Orman on people recognizing him as "Gordon" on Sesame Street
03:18
People

Ray Charles

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Roscoe Orman on some of his favorite guests on Sesame Street
02:27

Kevin Clash

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Roscoe Orman on Kevin Clash and why people love "Elmo"
00:33
Roscoe Orman on Kevin Clash, "Elmo," and "Hoots the Owl"
05:17

Joan Ganz Cooney

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Roscoe Orman on Joan Ganz Cooney
01:53

Morgan Freeman

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Roscoe Orman on Morgan Freeman
01:00

Robert Guillaume

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Roscoe Orman on his audition for "Gordon" on Sesame Street - Robert Guillame was another person considered for the role
01:53

Jim Henson

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Roscoe Orman on Jim Henson
02:58

Richard Hunt

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Roscoe Orman on Kevin Clash and "Elmo" and Clash taking over the role from Richard Hunt
05:17

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Roscoe Orman on meeting Martin Luther King, Jr.
01:54

Will Lee

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Roscoe Orman on learning to relate to Muppets, and to the kids on Sesame Street
02:39
Roscoe Orman on Sesame Street's: "Farewell, Mr. Hooper"
01:13

Loretta Long

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Roscoe Orman on learning to relate to Muppets, and to the kids on Sesame Street
02:39
Roscoe Orman on "Gordon's" relationship with "Susan" on Sesame Street
02:26

Whitman Mayo

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Roscoe Orman on his friendship with Sanford and Son's Whitman Mayo - an actor at the New Lafayette Theater
00:22

Bob McGrath

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Roscoe Orman on learning to relate to Muppets, and to the kids on Sesame Street
02:39

Frank Oz

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Roscoe Orman on the Muppets/puppets he relates to best - Frank Oz's
01:11

Matt Robinson

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Roscoe Orman on Matt Robinson, the original "Gordon" on Sesame Street
03:34

Roy Rogers

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Roscoe Orman on meeting Roy Rogers
00:53

Caroll Spinney

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Roscoe Orman on Carroll Spinney's "Big Bird" and "Oscar the Grouch"
02:18

Jon Stone

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Roscoe Orman on his audition for "Gordon" on Sesame Street and meeting with writer Jon Stone
01:53
Roscoe Orman on his Sesame Street character "Gordon" and the characteristics writer Jon Stone told him "Gordon" should have
03:46

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