- The pioneering children’s show “Sesame Street” is celebrating its 50 th anniversary on November 10.
- The show first premiered in 1969, and while the general concept of catchy songs and educational clips has stayed the same, its themes have evolved with the times.
- In its 50 years, the program, which is the longest-running children’s show ever, has broadcast in more than 100 countries, and won dozens of Grammy and Emmy awards.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
“Sesame Street,” the pioneering children’s TV show loved across the world, premiered 50 years ago on November 10.
The show has taught generations of children how to count and say their ABCs, offered helpful lessons in diversity and mental health, and continues to be a role model for kids’ TV shows everywhere.
“Sesame Street,” as an idea, started with a question. In the midst of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, founders Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morris asked themselves: How can we help disadvantaged youth prepare for school through a television program?
The group then hired puppeteer and Muppet creator Jim Henson, who helped the team create a cast of characters to live on “Sesame Street.”
The show first premiered in 1969 on the National Educational Television network, an entity that later became the Public Broadcasting Service. The episode featured catchy songs, celebrity guests, and goofy and thoughtful Muppet characters, including Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, and Oscar the Grouch.
By the end of its first season, “Sesame Street” had reached millions of preschoolers. Fifty years later, it has broadcast in more than 100 countries, and won dozens of Grammy and Emmy awards.
More Muppets were added as time went on, like Count von Count in the 1970s, and more recently, Julia, the first Muppet with autism, and Lily, the first Muppet to experience homelessness.
On the show’s 50th anniversary, Insider’s taking a look back at how the show has evolved over the years.
Food The first episode of Sesame Street featured Bert, Ernie, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.
Food The Muppets first featured on “Sesame Street” were created by legendary puppeteer Jim Henson.
Food Puppeteer Caroll Spinney played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch in the show’s first episode.
He continued performing the roles for 49 years.
Food Celebrity guests are a longstanding tradition on “Sesame Street.” More than 400 celebrities have appeared on the show.
Source: Mental Floss
Food In the 1970s, Grover and Count von Count were added to the “Sesame Street” cast.
Food Elmo was a background Muppet on “Sesame Street” for years, but he made his first appearance as a main cast member in 1984.
Food For years adults on “Sesame Street” thought Mr. Snuffleupagus was Big Bird’s imaginary friend. In 1985, the show made him a real character.
Mr. Snuffleupagus was made into a real character in 1985, in the wake of a series of high-profile child abuse cases in the United States.
Showrunners said Mr. Snuffleupagus, who was long believed to be Big Bird’s imaginary friend, was made real to show children that adults would believe them if the told them something.
According to a history of the show provided by Sesame Workshop, “By acknowledging that Big Bird was right about Snuffy all along, ‘Sesame Street’ validated children’s feelings, encouraging them to share important things with their parents and caregivers.”
Food “Sesame Street” developed a curriculum on AIDS and HIV in 2000, and created Kami, an HIV-positive Muppet from South Africa.
Food “Sesame Street” introduced Lily in 2011 as a character who experienced food insecurity. She was re-introduced in 2018 as the first character to experience homelessness.
Food Celebrities continue to make appearances on “Sesame Street” to this day. Janelle Monáe stopped by in 2014 to teach the cast about persevering.
Food “Sesame Street” introduced its first Afghan Muppet in 2016. She appeared on the Afghanistan production of the program.
Food “Sesame Street” introduced Julia, the first character with autism, in 2017. The show went on to create an initiative to help educate viewers on autism.
Food “Sesame Street” now airs in 150 countries and is showing no signs of stopping. The show is now broadcast on both HBO and PBS, and in 2019, New York officially created a “Sesame Street” in the city.