Chances are you watched “Sesame Street” as a child. And if you are now a parent of a young child, chances are you’re still watching “Sesame Street” today. Since its premiere on November 10, 1969, the puppets and people of “Sesame Street” have been entertaining young children and teaching them valuable lessons about everything from friendship to the alphabet, making it the longest running children’s television show.
There have been a few changes, including the show’s move from PBS to HBO in 2015, but over the years, “Sesame Street” has managed to stay relevant to each new generation of viewers. But even if you think you’ve seen practically every episode, there are some things about the beloved kids’ show that may come as a surprise.
Believe it or not, there are some things you didn’t know about “Sesame Street.”
The first Mr. Snuffleupagus was rather scary looking.
When Mr. Snuffleupagus made his first appearance in 1971, he only existed in Big Bird’s imagination. As large as he was, he would always disappear before Big Bird’s neighbours could see him. In season 17, producers decided to make Big Bird’s bestie visible to everyone. But when he made his television debut, Snuffy looked less like someone you’d want to have a sleepover with and more like something you might see in your nightmares.
The original version had creepy yellow eyes and a thinner body.
Four First Ladies have appeared on the show.
Since the show’s premiere, four First Ladies have made appearances on Sesame Street. Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama have all stopped by to hang out with the “Sesame Street” gang to teach young viewers about issues including healthy eating and the importance of literacy. Hillary Clinton even shared a smooch with Oscar.
Oscar used to be orange.
Oscar the Grouch, the crankiest neighbour on “Sesame Street” is known for his grumpy demeanour as well as his green fur. But you may not have known that his fur was once a completely different colour. In the show’s first season, the beloved grouch had orange fur. When he reappeared as green in season two, Oscar told everyone that the colour change was the result of a vacay in a damp swamp.
Mississippi voted to ban the show.
In May of 1970, the Mississippi State Commission for Educational Television voted to ban Sesame Street. Members of the commission voted against airing the show in the state due to its integrated cast. They eventually backed off when the story garnered mainstream attention.
Bert has a twin.
Ernie may be Bert’s best friend on the show, but there is someone who is much closer to the one-eyebrowed puppet. Bert has an identical twin brother named Bart. He made a brief appearance on an episode of “Sesame Street” in 1974.
The show almost had a different name.
Show creators originally considered the name “123 Avenue B,” but changed the title when producers discovered that the address was an actual location in New York City. The writers eventually settled on “Sesame Street,” a nod to the command, “Open, Sesame!” from “The Arabian Nights.” They also thought the name would resonate more with young viewers outside of New York City.
Celebrities love hanging out on Sesame Street.
Forget about the club scene in Hollywood and New York, “Sesame Street” is the place to find some of the hottest stars. Since its premiere over 500 celebrities have appeared on the show, including Mindy Kaling,Alicia Keys, and Beyonce.James Earl Jones made the first celebrity appearance in 1969.
“Sesame Street” has fans all over the world.
“Sesame Street” entertains young viewers in almost every corner of the globe. The show is aired in over 150 countries. There are also locally produced versions of the show in over 30 countries including South Africa, France, and Israel, which address the specific educational needs of the children in those countries.
Elmo never grows up.
Big Bird and Oscar are voiced by the same person.
Two of “Sesame Street’s” most beloved puppets were once voiced by the same puppeteer. Caroll Spinney was the first puppeteer to bring both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to life. He originated the role in 1969 and after nearly 50 years in the job, retired in October 2018.
It’s a family affair.
Two of the “Sesame Street” cast members had their own children act alongside them on the show. Sonia Manzano, who played Maria’s, daughter, Gabriella played her on-screen daughter Gabi. Roscoe Orman, who played Gordon, had his son Miles play his son on the show as well.
Elmo has dabbled in politics.
Elmo may be furry and cute, but he’s not afraid to get involved in the political process. In 2002, Elmo made history as the only puppet to testify before Congress. The adorable puppet went to Capitol Hill to testify before the Education Appropriations Subcommittee to advocate for an increase in funding for music programs in schools.
The research department found kids learn the most from Elmo.
“The research department goes out and watches the show with kids, to see how they react to certain characters,” Kevin Clash, the senior puppet coordinator and Muppet captain told NPR. “And Elmo just hit the charts as far as them really connecting to the little red monster. And not only laughing with him and enjoying him – but also learning what they’re supposed to be learning from the specific curriculum that was in the scripts with him.”
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