Sesame Street


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

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About

Before Sesame Street, successful children's programs were entertainment oriented and appeared on commercial television; educational programs were thought to be boring and pedantic and appeared on public television which garnered a small, more affluent audience. Co-creator Joan Ganz Cooney recognized that television could do more than entertain; it could provide supplementary education at a fraction of the cost of classroom instruction. She demonstrated that quality educational programming could attract and hold a mass audience and established an organization which continues to produce innovative programming for all ages. And, via Sesame Street a larger, more diverse audience discovered public television, bringing it to the forefront of the national consciousness. 

Sesame Street first aired in November 1969, on nearly 190 public and commercial stations, and by all measures has been a continuing success. In large scale studies, the Educational Testing Service of Princeton concluded that Sesame Street generally reached its educational goals. The show also rapidly gained a mass audience, which it currently maintains.

-Suzanne Williams-Rautiolla

Highlights
Sonia Manzano on seeing Sesame Street for the first time in college
Loretta Long on how she came to be cast as "Susan" on Sesame Street
Bob McGrath on the evolution of the "street" set of Sesame Street
Caroll Spinney on performing both "Bird Bird" and "Oscar the Grouch" when they appear in the same scene
Lewis Bernstein on keeping current with the issues that affect children on Sesame Street
Roscoe Orman on the legacy of Sesame Street
Who talked about this show

Bob Banner

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Bob Banner on working with Jim Henson and the Muppets on The Jimmy Dean Show and A Sesame Street Christmas

Lewis Bernstein

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Executive producer Lewis Bernstein on his impressions of Sesame Street upon seeing the show for the first time circa 1970
Executive producer Lewis Bernstein on landing a job as a research fellow on Sesame Street in 1972
Executive producer/former Director of Research Lewis Bernstein on Sesame Street's joining of TV producers and educators, which he discovered as he learned the ropes in the 1970s
Executive producer/former Director of Research Lewis Bernstein on the "distraction study" of Dr. Ed Palmer, which tested a child's engagement, used in early Sesame Street research
Executive producer/former Director of Research Lewis Bernstein on how Sesame Street researchers (in tandem with executives Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett) geared the show to the "disadvantaged child"
Executive producer/former Director of Research Lewis Bernstein on Sesame Street's effect on racial tolerance in children
Executive producer/former Director of Research Lewis Bernstein on the long-term research of children who watched Sesame Street in the early years
Executive producer/former Director of Research Lewis Bernstein on the international distribution of the US version and creation of foreign versions of Sesame Street
Executive producer Lewis Bernstein on the Sesame Street shows produced immediately following 9/11 that addressed children's fears and on tolerance
Executive producer/former Director of Research Lewis Bernstein on the approach to culture in foreign versions of Sesame Street
Executive Producer Lewis Bernstein on bringing stories from around the world to Sesame Street with the "Global Grover" segment (in response to 9/11)
Producer Lewis Bernstein on creating the Israeli/Palestinian co-production of Sesame Street (Shalom Sesame and Sha'ra Simsim), in which he had direct involvement 
Producer Lewis Bernstein on overcoming the resistance to a Israeli/Palestinian co-production of Sesame Street (Shalom Sesame and Sha'ra Simsim)
Exectuive producer Lewis Bernstein on "Sesame English"— segments of Sesame Street created to teach English to the foreign market
Executive producer/former Director of Research Lewis Bernstein on rethinking Sesame Street for the current market and considering the show's competition, out of which came "Elmo's World" in the late 1990s
Executive producer/former Director of Research on what research indicated were the successful elements of "Elmo's World"
Lewis Bernstein on the rethinking of the original "magazine" format of Sesame Street in the late '90s when "Elmo's World" was introduced
Lewis Bernstein on continuing the legacy of Sesame Street
Lewis Bernstein on keeping current with the issues that affect children on Sesame Street
Lewis Bernstein on changes to Sesame Street's curriculum over the years
Lewis Bernstein on serving as Sesame Street's executive producer
Executive Producer Lewis Bernstein on what goes into a season's writing on Sesame Street
Executive producer Lewis Bernstein on the importance of music to Sesame Street
Executive Producer Lewis Bernstein on Children's Television Workshop (Sesame Workshop) visionary Joan Ganz Cooney

Bernie Brillstein

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Manager Bernie Brillstein on Jim Henson's contributions to Sesame Street

Garrett Brown

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Garrett Brown on working on short films for Sesame Street

Ed Christie

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Ed Christie on designing for Sesame Street and The Muppet Show
Ed Christie on supervising art direction for Sesame Street
Ed Christie on his art direction duties on Sesame Street
Ed Christie on liaising between The Children's Television Workshop and The Henson Company for Sesame Street
Ed Christie on who owns the Sesame Street characters
Ed Christie on designing for international productions of Sesame Street
Ed Christie on specifics for designing for different countries for international productions of Sesame Street
Ed Christie on how Sesame Street has changed since he started on the show
Ed Christie on designing a South African puppet with AIDS for Sesame Street South Africa
Ed Christie on the popularity of "Elmo" on Sesame Street

Kevin Clash

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Kevin Clash on developing the character of "Elmo," inlcuding his signature laugh
Kevin Clash on his early memories of watching Sesame Street
Kevin Clash on Jim Henson

Joan Ganz Cooney

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Joan Ganz Cooney on the Sesame Street episode following actor Will Lee's death,  "Farewell, Mr. Hooper" (airdate: November 24, 1983)
Joan Ganz Cooney on the use of Muppets on Sesame Street and initial reaction to the show
Joan Ganz Cooney on the importance of humor in Sesame Street
Joan Ganz Cooney on the origin of the name for Sesame Street
Joan Ganz Cooney on the creation of Sesame Street
Joan Ganz Cooney on importance of research in the development of Sesame Street
Joan Ganz Cooney on the various Muppets on Sesame Street  
Joan Ganz Cooney on the international versions of Sesame Street
Joan Ganz Cooney on how Sesame Street competes in the new marketplace; on the show's legacy

Danny Epstein

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Danny Epstein on the five pilot programs and original plan for Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the beginning of his association with Sesame Street and the research that went into creating Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on popular music of the day influencing the music on Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the theme song to Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the theme song to Sesame Street, contd.
Danny Epstein on his responsibilities on Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the musical talent of the Sesame Street cast
Danny Epstein on the process for creating songs for Sesame Street (and the creation of  "Being Green," "Sing," "Rubber Duckie" and other hit songs)
Danny Epstein on popular songs from Sesame Street ("Doin' The Pigeon," "People In Your Neighborhood," "One of These Things," "Monster In the Mirror")
Danny Epstein on music/songs that were rejected on Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on working with the characters/cast members of Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on working with guest stars on Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the library of music from Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on how Sesame Street has changed over the years
Danny Epstein on winning Emmys for Music Direction for Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the success of Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the legacy of Sesame Street

Tony Geiss

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Tony Geiss on Joan Ganz Cooney and the genesis of Sesame Street; on the philosophy of the show; on the state of public television at the time
Writer Tony Geiss on joining Sesame Street and how assignments were made; on the rules for writers; on the research goals on the series
Writer Tony Geiss on Sesame Street's teaching of Spanish and the show's reach into diverse communities; on writing for adult audiences, too
Writer Tony Geiss on the journey of a Sesame Street script to production; on making sure children don't model bad behavior
Writer Tony Geiss on the journey of a Sesame Street script to production
Writer Tony Geiss on the importance of music on Sesame Street; on Buffy Saint-Marie's appearance and the song written for her; on some of the series' famous songs, including "Elmo's" theme
Writer Tony Geiss on writing for Sesame Street's guest stars including Madeline Kahn, Robin Williams, Lena Horne, Tony Bennett
Writer Tony Geiss on how Sesame Street changed from his start there in the 1970s until 2004
Writre Tony Geiss on the legacy of Sesame Street

Geri Jewell

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Geri Jewell on "decapitating Big Bird" when she appeared on Sesame Street

Chuck Jones

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Chuck Jones on being a consultant for Sesame Street

Loretta Long

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Loretta Long on how she came to be cast as "Susan" on Sesame Street
Loretta Long on her audition to play "Susan" on Sesame Street
Loretta Long on her parents' reaction to her taking a job on Sesame Street
Loretta Long on PBS' coverage around the country at the time Sesame Street started, and on spreading the word about the show
Loretta Long on the first few days of filming Sesame Street, and on cast members Will Lee as "Mr. Hooper," Bob McGrath as "Bob," and Matt Robinson as "Gordon"
Loretta Long on her character, "Susan," on Sesame Street
Loretta Long on Roscoe Orman taking over the character of "Gordon," and on the adoption storyline on Sesame Street
Loretta Long on the Sesame Street episode "Farewell, Mr. Hooper"
Loretta Long on working with The Muppets on Sesame Street, and on working with "Big Bird" and "Elmo" specifically
Loretta Long on working with Jim Henson as "Kermit," and on working with various other of the Muppets
Loretta Long on pursuing her doctorate while still appearing on Sesame Street, and on her dissertation, "Sesame Street: A Space Age Approach to Education for Space Age Kids"
Loretta Long on the curriculum goals of Sesame Street, on the diversity of the cast, and on how the show impacts viewers
Loretta Long on the various issues that Sesame Street has taken on over the years, and on the cultural impact of the show
Loretta Long on the directors of Sesame Street, and on the special guest stars
Loretta Long on how Sesame Street has changed since it began
Loretta Long on the importance that she keep working on Sesame Street, and her then-current outside projects
Loretta Long on the power of television, and on the impact that her character of "Susan" on Sesame Street has had on black television characters

James L. Loper

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James L. Loper on the introduction of Sesame Street

Sonia Manzano

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Sonia Manzano on seeing Sesame Street for the first time in college
Sonia Manzano on her audition for Sesame Street with Jon Stone and his philosophy about her role
Sonia Manzano on the natural aging incorporation of her feminism in the character Maria on Sesame Street
Sonia Manzano on why there weren't many female and ethnic Muppet characters on Sesame Street
Sonia Manzano on Sesame Street executive producer Dulcy Singer
Sonia Manzano on Maria's marriage and motherhood storylines on Sesame Street; and how her own daughter was briefly in the cast
Sonia Manzano on executive producer Dulcy Singer's fight to make a show which would address the death of Mr. Hooper (following actor Will Lee's death)
Sonia Manzano on the research and script of "Farewell, Mr. Hooper," which addressed the death of regular character "Mr. Hooper"
Sonia Manzano ("Maria") on Carroll Spinney's performance as "Big Bird" in the episode "Farewell, Mr. Hooper," which addressed the death of regular character "Mr. Hooper"
Sonia Manzano on Sesame Street castmate Will Lee ("Mr. Hooper")
Sonia Manzano on working on the set of Sesame Street
Sonia Manzano on the Muppets being the "heart" of Sesame Street  and the legacy of Jim Henson
Sonia Manzano on working with the Muppets and their puppeteers on Sesame Street
Sonia Manzano on her favorite Sesame Street moments
Sonia Manzano on the legacy of Sesame Street

Bob McGrath

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Bob McGrath on the research/script done for the episode "Farewell, Mr. Hooper," which dealt with the death of character "Mr. Hooper" following actor Will Lee's death
Bob McGrath on the cast's Sesame Street wardrobe over the years, including his sweaters
Bob McGrath on a favorite scene with actor Will Lee ("Mr. Hooper") in the special Christmas Eve on Sesame Street
Bob McGrath on his character of "Bob" on Sesame Street
Bob McGrath on how his character on Sesame Street came to have the name Bob
Bob McGrath on getting acting advice from Will Lee ("Mr. Hooper")
Bob McGrath on how he got his start on Sesame Street
Bob McGrath on filming the emotional episode "Farewell, Mr. Hooper" when "Big Bird" comes to understand that "Mr. Hooper" has died
Bob McGrath on the evolution of the "street" set of Sesame Street
Bob McGrath on the reception of episode "Farewell, Mr. Hooper," which dealt with the death of "Mr. Hooper" following actor Will Lee's passing
Bob McGrath on the writing, scripts and production process for a typical week on Sesame Street
Bob McGrath on the format of Sesame Street
Bob McGrath on working with "Big Bird," "Oscar the Grouch" and "Bert and Ernie" on Sesame Street
Bob McGrath on the highlight of his career, working on Sesame Street
Bob McGrath on memories working with guest star Linda Bove on Sesame Street and the far-reaching impact of an episode about hearing impairment
Bob McGrath on the evolution of the music of Sesame Street over the years; on his favorite moments on the show; on celebrating the 35th anniversary of Sesame Street and the show's success

Anne Meara

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Anne Meara on appearing on Sesame Street

Lloyd Morrisett

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Lloyd Morrisett on the birth of Sesame Street
Lloyd Morrisett on the research and efforts that went into creating Sesame Street
Lloyd Morrisett on fundraising to get Sesame Street made and trying to get it on the air
Lloyd Morrisett on the early days of production on Sesame Street
Lloyd Morrisett on how Sesame Street was a product of its time
Lloyd Morrisett on how integral research was to Sesame Street
Lloyd Morrisett on early production on Sesame Street
Lloyd Morrisett on audience reaction to Sesame Street
Lloyd Morrisett on funding for a second season of Sesame Street
Lloyd Morrisett on the future of Sesame Workshop and the success and impact of Sesame Street

Thad Mumford

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Thad Mumford on writing songs for Sesame Street with Joe Raposo

Roscoe Orman

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

Charlotte Rae

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Charlotte Rae on appearing as "Molly the Mail Lady" on Sesame Street

Caroll Spinney

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"Big Bird" performer Caroll Spinney on performing the scene in "Farewell, Mr. Hooper" when "Big Bird" comes to fully realize that Mr. Hooper has died
"Big Bird" performer Caroll Spinney on telling Will Lee ("Mr. Hooper") he loved him, during what turned out to be Lee's last day of shooting
Caroll Spinney on performing "Oscar the Grouch"
Caroll Spinney on performing both "Bird Bird" and "Oscar the Grouch" when they appear in the same scene
Caroll Spinney on his characterization of "Big Bird"
Caroll Spinney on going to New York to work for Jim Henson on Sesame Street
Caroll Spinney on a child's shock at seeing him getting out of his "Bird Bird" costume at one filming; on children's belief that there is a "real" Sesame Street and that the show just recreates it
"Big Bird"/"Oscar the Grouch" performer Caroll Spinney on Will Lee ("Mr. Hooper") and "Big Bird's" mispronunciation of "Mr. Hooper's" name
"Big Bird"/"Oscar the Grouch" performer Caroll Spinney on the Sesame Street episode "Farewell, Mr. Hooper" which addressed the death of character "Mr. Hooper," following actor Will Lee's death
"Big Bird"/"Oscar the Grouch" performer Caroll Spinney on two Sesame Street episodes that never aired: one on divorce and another on a bad dream (by "Ernie")
"Big Bird" performer Caroll Spinney on a scene in which "Snuffleupagus" becomes "real" (as opposed to "Big Bird's" imaginary friend)
Caroll Spinney on the commercialization of Sesame Street
Caroll Spinney on his schedule and making appearances for Sesame Street
Caroll Spinney on the second season and beyond of Sesame Street and how Jim Henson's death affected the show

Norman Stiles

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Norman Stiles on going to write for Sesame Street
Norman Stiles on the early process of writing for Sesame Street
Norman Stiles on the research department vetting his Sesame Street scripts and the curriculum of the show
Norman Stiles on the length and format of a Sesame Street segment
Norman Stiles on learning to write for Sesame Street and the basic philosophy of writing for the show
Norman Stiles on working with Joan Ganz Cooney on Sesame Street
Norman Stiles on Jim Henson's involvement in Sesame Street and creating the Muppet "The Count"
Norman Stiles on creating the character of "Forgetful Jones" on Sesame Street
Norman Stiles on creating the character of "Elmo" on Sesame Street
Norman Stiles on fine-tuning the character of "Telly Monster" on Sesame Street
Norman Stiles on the female character of "Prairie Dawn" on Sesame Street
Norman Stiles on writing for "Zoe" and "Rosita" on Sesame Street and Sesame Street's evolution in selling products
Norman Stiles on his favorite Sesame Street characters to write for
Norman Stiles on writing for the actors on Sesame Street
Norman Stiles on writing for the ensemble of Sesame Street
Norman Stiles on Ladysmith Black Mambazo performing on Sesame Street and writing songs for the show
Norman Stiles on Dulcy Singer as executive producer of Sesame Street
Norman Stiles on writing songs for Sesame Street
Norman Stiles on leaving Sesame Street and co-creating When Things Were Rotten
Norman Stiles on returning to Sesame Street in 1980
Norman Stiles on collaborating with the writers on Sesame Street as head writer of the show and what he looked for in a writer
Norman Stiles on writing the iconic Sesame Street episode "Farewell, Mr. Hooper"
Norman Stiles on winning a Daytime Emmy for the Sesame Street episode "Farewell, Mr. Hooper"
Norman Stiles on the unaired Sesame Street segment "Snuffy's Parents Get A Divorce"
Norman Stiles on dealing with Sesame Street segments that didn't test well
Norman Stiles on his favorite Sesame Street segments 
Norman Stiles on keeping his writing for Sesame Street fresh over several decades
Norman Stiles on working on international versions of Sesame Street
Norman Stiles on leaving Sesame Street in 1995 and creating Between the Lions
Norman Stiles on the legacy of Sesame Street
Norman Stiles on why "Snuffleupagus" started out as only visible to "Big Bird," but soon became visible to everyone on Sesame Street
Norman Stiles on NASA approaching Sesame Street about a storyline

Dan Wilcox

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Dan Wilcox on how he started writing for Sesame Street and what made the show unique
Dan Wilcox on working with executive producer Jon Stone on Sesame Street
Dan Wilcox on the writing process of Sesame Street
Dan Wilcox on working with Jim Henson on Sesame Street, and on writing for the Muppets
Dan Wilcox on writing for the ensemble cast of Sesame Street
Dan Wilcox on writing for Pete Seeger when he appeared on Sesame Street, and on the music of the show
Dan Wilcox on winning a Daytime Emmy for his work on Sesame Street
Dan Wilcox on leaving Sesame Street, and on the legacy of the show

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