Sesame Street Is 50 Years Old! Here, Muppets Who Tackled Tough Topics Through the Years


By November nineteen sixty nine tens of thousands of men have been killed in Vietnam Martin Luther king junior was assassinated a year and a half earlier Sonia Manzano who played Maria on Sesame Street for forty four years says it was a tumultuous time but also an idealistic time there was a moon landing there was free love there was what style but the well I think what really inspired the show was the civil rights movement the creators of Sesame Street wanted the show to be more relevant to families then say captain kangaroo AS one producer put it they wanted it to be funky and down to earth get out of town in that very first episode Ernie takes a bath and bird gets annoyed why did call your bathtub Rosie because every time I think of both only ring around Rosie Kermit the frog tried to explain the letter W. I need a W. to make such words as warrants and will move well cookie monster jumps away at it turning it into an end anyway the end is not a bad letter revolutionary for the time at sesame street's human cast with integrated the children who appeared on the show were different races adults bobbin Mister Hooper were white Gordon and sue were African Americans I just brought Sally around you know the neighborhood all you just Sesame Street co founder Joan Ganz Cooney told NPR in two thousand eight the city street setting was deliberate we decided not to have it in some magic house and you know the way most children's programs are set in a in a fantasy setting of some kind or in the suburbs as Mister Rogers neighborhood was and we were trying to reach all children but with the bulls eye and the target as we used to say were inner city youngsters and integrated cast Muppets real life brought to you by the letters a dizzy there was nothing else like it on television Sesame Street also address difficult or delicate topics other children's programming wouldn't touch at the time in nineteen seventy seven for example the singer Buffy Saint Marie help to normalize breast feeding by nursing her baby in front of Big Bird that's a funny way to feed a baby Alonso Mondays feed their babies this way not all mothers but most mothers do when will leave the actor who played Mister Hooper died suddenly in nineteen eighty two Sesame Street dealt openly with feelings of loss Big Bird when when people die they don't come back no never producers spend months researching and consulting with psychologists and other experts on how to talk about difficult themes to small children but there have still been some missteps in the nineteen eighties there had been a series of news reports about child abuse and kids telling their parents that something happened to them at daycare and parents not believing their children doctor rose Marie truly on is senior vice president for curriculum and content at sesame workshop she's as producers realized one of the story lines on the show was being dismissive of children the adults didn't believe Big Bird when he said his friend snuff Olympic S. was real no

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