The Sesame Workshop is reporting that long-time Sesame Street puppeteer Caroll Spinney has announced his retirement, noting that he's performed on the program since its 1969 premiere. Spinney has played the roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch for nearly 50 years!
After five decades as the heart and soul of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, it’s impossible to entirely separate the man from the characters he so vibrantly brought to life. Big Bird visited China with Bob Hope in 1979. He’s danced with the Rockettes, and with prima ballerina Cynthia Gregory. He’s been feted with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, celebrated with his likeness on a U.S. postage stamp, and named a “Living Legend” in 2000 by the Library of Congress. Performing Big Bird has taken Caroll to China, Japan, Australia, France, Germany, Canada, and the United Kingdom. He has performed on hundreds of episodes of television, starred as his big yellow avatar in the feature film Follow That Bird, and conducted symphony orchestras throughout the United States, Australia, and Canada. Spinney even met his wife of 45 years, Debra, on the Sesame Street set in 1973.
Not to worry, Big Bird and Oscar are not going anywhere. They will be played going forward by puppeteers Matt Vogel and Eric Jacobson, with Spinney's blessing.
Also, if you haven't seen the 2014 documentary about Spinney titled I Am Big Bird, I urge you to do so. It's a truly beautiful portrait of a deeply creative man who chose to live his most authentic life. Read the rest
It's a question that's floated around forever: Are Bert and Ernie gay?
Former Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman says yes.
In a recent Queerty interview, Saltzman (whose partner is Arnold "Arnie" Glassman) reveals that the Muppet duo were based on his own (gay) relationship:
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Ok, so we have to address—that’s the big question, right? In the writer’s room, you’re all adults. Were you thinking of Bert & Ernie as a gay couple? Did that question ever come up?
I remember one time that a column from The San Francisco Chronicle, a preschooler in the city turned to mom and asked “are Bert & Ernie lovers?” And that, coming from a preschooler was fun. And that got passed around, and everyone had their chuckle and went back to it. And I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were. I didn’t have any other way to contextualize them. The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie & I as “Bert & Ernie.”
Yeah, I was Ernie. I look more Bert-ish. And Arnie as a film editor—if you thought of Bert with a job in the world, wouldn’t that be perfect? Bert with his paper clips and organization? And I was the jokester. So it was the Bert & Ernie relationship, and I was already with Arnie when I came to Sesame Street. So I don’t think I’d know how else to write them, but as a loving couple.
KAWS has put his imprint on Sesame Street in a new apparel line for adults and kids. The collection will be available online on June 28 and in stores on June 29 at Japanese retailer Uniqlo. Prices start at $14.90 for adults and $9.90 for kids.
(HYPEBEAST) Read the rest
Sesame Street lawyers are not happy that Jim Henson's son Brian has a raunchy puppet film coming out called Happytime Murders. After they filed a suit against the film, Henson retained a crack puppet lawyer named Fred (above) to defend them. Read the rest
In Sharing Things, Cookie Monster stars as Cookiegorgon, a monster who eats all the treats in town. Lots of inside jokes for those who love the series, including barfing up gummy worms and bad Eleven-themed puns. Read the rest
Wonderful 1980 video of Sesame Street's visit to a saxophone factory, complete with a free jazz sax soundtrack. (via Laughing Squid)
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This is the Beastie Boys and Big Bird mashup we never knew we were waiting for.
Thank you, Mylo the Cat aka Adam Schleichkorn, for editing this for our viewing enjoyment.
About 3 years ago, I spent a Sunday editing a video of the Muppets rapping “So What’Cha Want”, which ended up being a total game-changer for me. The original “Sabotage” music video is without a doubt, one of the greatest of all time, so I knew I couldn’t do a regular old lip sync video, I had to bring it! RIP MCA.
(Dangerous Minds, Nerdcore) Read the rest
Welcome to Sesame Street, Julia!
In March, Sesame Street announced plans to bring Julia—a muppet character with autism who’s appeared in books, apps, and other supplemental material—onto its flagship show. And she finally made her official debut on the iconic block this week. In her first appearance, which you can watch above, Big Bird meets Julia for the first time and learns about the many things that make her special and unique. Vox’s Dylan Matthews, who is autistic himself, has a great piece explaining the many subtle but important choices Sesame Street made in how to introduce Julia. And he points out one or two areas in which the show could potentially improve its autistic representation in the future too.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at Julia’s creation:
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Trump's distaste for publicly-funded children's programming may or may not be connected to Sesame Street's character Ronald Grump, a grouch who finagles Oscar into relocating from his trash can to Grump Tower. Read the rest
Julia is the new muppet with autism who's joined Sesame Street and she's off to an amazing start with this delightful game of "Boing Boing tag." We love you too, Julia! (Thanks,Sam Borgeson!) Read the rest
Fan footage of Seinfeld's Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Sesame Street's All-Star 25th Birthday (1994) in which she appeared as "Kathie Lee Kathie." I hope she put $5 in the swear jar as Elmo demanded.
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"We've never had such a violent, obnoxious celebrity on Sesame Street ever!" said Elmo. Pesci looked at it for a moment, then spat on it. [via r/videos] Read the rest
Helpful definition for anyone confused by the Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in America.
I didn't truly appreciate what a miracle is YouTube til I realized how many half-remembered Sesame Street sketches, songs and puppet shows from my grainy, nostalgic childhood could be found there. Some of them seem quite odd in retrospect, and there are folks out there dedicated to tracking down the oddest.
Jon Armond and friends had some lingering memories of a 1970s song-animation where the cracks on a girl's wall come to life and become her friends -- Crack Camel, Crack Monkey and Crack Hen.
It all goes a bit creepy when they meet Master Crack, a large, monstrous face-like cluster in a corner of the room, plaster crumbling from the maws of his eyes. Who thought this would be a good idea to show children?
To find the "Master Crack" clip, Armond went on a veritable quest, recorded in this audio documentary. If Serial was just about trying to find weird old children's show clips from the 70s I'd be so hooked.
Anyone remember an old Sesame clip that was just the stop-motion transmutation of a sandbox into a desert scene, accompanied by gentle music? I think two toy rhinos were placed into it at the end. If you know that one and can find it, Tweet me (@leighalexander)!
[h/t Laughingsquid] Read the rest
The Bug Band performs "She Loves You" on The Muppet Show in 1979. According to the Muppet Wiki, they were a nameless group until Kermit told them they needed a moniker. They suggested "The Grateful Dead" and "The Who." (via Experimental Music on Children's TV) Read the rest
The Roots, Jimmy Fallon, and the Sesame Street gang sing a rousing rendition of "Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?" Read the rest
The Kevin Clash/Elmo scandal, and its many furry tentacles, all broken down in one handy flowchart by Hilary Sargent.
Click here for the full chart: JPEG, PDF. Read the rest