Welcome to Saturday Surprise! Today, I would like to travel back in time … about 48 years, to be exact, to 1969. Remember what you were doing on this day in 1969? Of course you do, right? The only thing I can say for sure is that I was a lot younger then. Heck, I cannot remember what I was doing five minutes ago, let alone 48 years! But come along with me for just a few minutes …
Pull up a chair and turn on the television … it’s time for …
On this day in 1969, “Sesame Street,” a pioneering TV show that would teach generations of young children the alphabet and how to count, makes its broadcast debut. “Sesame Street,” with its memorable theme song (“Can you tell me how to get/How to get to Sesame Street”), went on to become the most widely viewed children’s program in the world. It has aired in more than 120 countries.
The show was the brainchild of Joan Ganz Cooney, a former documentary producer for public television. Cooney’s goal was to create programming for preschoolers that was both entertaining and educational. She also wanted to use TV as a way to help underprivileged 3- to 5- year-olds prepare for kindergarten. “Sesame Street” was set in a fictional New York neighborhood and included ethnically diverse characters and positive social messages.
Taking a cue from “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In,” a popular 1960s variety show, “Sesame Street” was built around short, often funny segments featuring puppets, animation and live actors. This format was hugely successful, although over the years some critics have blamed the show and its use of brief segments for shrinking children’s attention spans.
From the show’s inception, one of its most-loved aspects has been a family of puppets known as Muppets. Joan Ganz Cooney hired puppeteer Jim Henson (1936-1990) to create a cast of characters that became Sesame Street institutions, including Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Grover and Big Bird.
The subjects tackled by “Sesame Street” have evolved with the times. In 2002, the South African version of the program, “Takalani Sesame,” introduced a 5-year-old Muppet character named Kami who is HIV-positive, in order to help children living with the stigma of a disease that has reached epidemic proportions. In 2006, a new Muppet, Abby Cadabby, made her debut and was positioned as the show’s first female star character, in an effort to encourage diversity and provide a strong role model for girls.
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.
History.com, 2009, Sesame Street debuts, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/sesame-street-debuts, November 10, 2017, A+E Networks
A trip down memory lane is always fun, isn’t it? Ahhhh … the good ol’ days. Who was your favourite character? I think Kermit was mine, though I loved them all! I had so much fun with this one … I spent literally hours watching YouTube clips! How about a bit of trivia about the show …
- The show was almost called 123 Avenue B, but it was changed due to the fact that it was a real New York City address.
- Cookie Monster predates the show by 3 years. Jim Henson originally designed an early version of the character in 1966, for a cracker commercial.
- In 2004, Cookie Monster revealed that, before trying cookies for the first time, his name was Sid.
- Big Bird is 8’2″ tall.
- Big Bird’s teddy bear is named “Radar” after the character from M*A*S*H (1972) who always slept with a teddy bear.
- As of 2005, this program has won over 100 Emmy Awards, the single-most awarded to any television show in the United States.
- Don Music, the piano player who would bang his head against the piano in frustration, was discontinued when kids at home started doing the same thing.
- The Count’s birthday is October 9, 1,830,653 B.C.
I hope you enjoyed this Saturday Surprise, brought to you by the letter “S”. Have a great weekend, everyone … love and hugs to all!