10 Fun Facts from 50 Years of 'Sesame Street'

Discover some things you might not know about the pioneering program that has had a positive influence on generations of children.

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- Posted on Nov 6, 2019

The Sesame Street gang

On November 10, 1969, a pioneering new approach to children's programming was born when Sesame Street, the beloved show that for 50 years has both entertained and educated young children (and many not-so-young ones), made its debut on PBS.

According to Joan Ganz Cooney, co-creator of the program, she first discussed using television to educate young children in 1966 during a small dinner party at her Manhattan apartment. Lloyd Morrisett, then an executive at the Carnegie Corporation, was in attendance, and after exchanging ideas over dinner, he and Ganz Cooney would go on to create the pioneering and influential show.

To celebrate the show's golden anniversary, here are some fun facts about this beloved program.

1. The show wasn't originally to be called Sesame Street, but when it was learned that the original title—123 Avenue B—was an existing address in New York City, the name was changed.

2. Big Bird is without a doubt aptly named: He stands a towering 8 feet 2 inches.

3. The Count, Sesame Street's numbers-loving (and definitely not scary) vampire, is probably unimpressed by the show's 50th anniversary. After all, he turned 1,832,671 on October 9, 2019.

4. During the first season of the show, Oscar the Grouch was not green, but orange (however, his disposition was no sunnier than in later seasons).

5. Elmo once donned a suit and tie to appear before Congress—specifically, the Education Appropriations Subcommittee—where he spoke in favor of increased spending on musical instruments for school programs.

6. Bert's pal, Ernie, enjoyed a brief stint as a pop music star. His 1970 single, Rubber Duckie, made it to no. 16 on Billboard's singles chart.

7. To date, four First Ladies—Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama—have appeared on Sesame Street.

8. In 1976, perhaps inspired by the nation's Bicentennial celebration, Big Bird ran for President.

9. Actor James Earl Jones was the first celebrity to appear on Sesame Street. A bonus fun fact: Actor Burt Lancaster made his television debut in the show's first season.

10. Cookie Monster is the show's only monster who has five fingers (the others all have just four).

Happy anniversary, Sesame Street—here's to the next 50 years!

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