Since 1969, just about every kid with access to a television can tell you “how to get, how to get to Sesame Street.” Filled with all sorts of interesting people and lovable critters, this urban city block has been entertaining kids for decades while sneakily introducing them to all those letters and numbers long before they ever set foot on a school bus. Let’s take a look back at the iconic educational program that still resonates in the hearts of anyone who ever watched.
Here’s what the opening looked like in 1971:
Produced by the Children’s Television Workshop (now known as Sesame Workshop,) Sesame Street has been educating and entertaining kids for over 40 seasons now – in over four thousand episodes. Set in an urban environment, and with a multicultural cast, it is comprised of a series of humorous and informative sketches, catchy little songs, and a host of furry Muppets created by the irreplaceable Jim Henson including: The Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird, Count Von Count, Snuffleupagus, Ernie and Bert and, of course, Elmo. Over the years, the human cast members have included Gordon, Susan, Bob, Marie, David and Mr. Hooper. Not to be left out, a respectable roster of guests have made appearances over the years, such as James Brown, The Goo Goo Dolls, Hillary Clinton, Little Richard and Johnny Cash.
The music of Sesame Street has found its way into pop culture, with over 50 compilation albums released. Many of the songs either teach social lessons (such as “I Gotta Be Clean and “Everyone Makes Mistakes”) or help build recognition of letters and numbers (“Letter B” sung to the tune of “Let it Be” and “Born to Add” based on Springsteen’s “Born to Run”). One particular tune by Ernie, “Rubber Duckie, You’re the One,” managed to reach #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1970. All in all, Sesame Street has won 11 Grammy Awards.
If the number of Grammy Awards surprises you, consider that Sesame Street has won a total of 109 Emmy Awards, the most ever for a television series. It is also the longest running TV show of all time and has been broadcast in 120 countries.
Over the years, Sesame Street has managed to wiggle its way into the hearts of literally millions of children, all of whom can instantly recall a favorite character or song. One of the most beloved characters on the show, the shopkeeper known as Mr. Hooper, came to an end when actor Will Lee passed away in 1982. Rather than replace him, Sesame Street devoted an entire episode to helping children deal with his passing through the mourning of Big Bird. Here’s a clip of Mr Hooper from the early years that should bring back plenty of memories for those who watched in the 70s:
Love of Sesame Street continues to grow. To mark the historic 2009 40th anniversary episode milestone, First Lady Michelle Obama became the fourth First Lady to date to appear on the show. Mrs. Obama taught the kids the benefits of growing vegetables. It’s estimated that somewhere around 5 million toddlers continue to tune in weekly for their dose of educational entertainment. If history is any indication, it is entirely possible that these children will be telling their own kids “how to get, how to get to Sesame Street” – and watching them learn to count and spell with Big Bird and the gang – just like so many of us fondly recall.
If Sesame Street played a significant role in your upbringing, and/or if parts of the show still resonate with you well into adulthood, we welcome your thoughts and reflections in our comments section. And, if you were particularly fond of a particular song, character or recurring segment, tell us about that as well, as we tip our hats to this legendary children’s show at Retroland.