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Sesame Street’s 45th Anniversary: A Look Back

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Sesame Street, the long-running PBS children’s television show starring a cast of Jim Henson muppets who teach children basic learning concepts and introduce them to difficult issues, turns 45 this week. Here’s a look back at some defining moments in the history of the iconic show:

  • 1966: The idea for Sesame Street is conceived after psychologist Lloyd Morrisett observes his young daughter watching cartoons and wonders whether the power of television can be harnessed to babysit young children
  • 1968: Creation of the show is funded largely through government grants, ensuring that programming is free from the influence of corporate interests and completely subservient to the will of the state
  • 1968: In one late-night meeting, the show’s creators hammer out the details of what will eventually become the alphabet
  • 1969: Oscar the Grouch is introduced to teach children that poverty is the result of a poor attitude
  • 1972: The show is criticized for soft-pedaling the subject of death in an episode where a visibly nervous Big Bird tells children that all their grandparents will live forever
  • 1975-1980: A new character is introduced every three minutes until something sticks
  • 1982: Mr. Snuffleupagus explains to the kids, through tears, exactly what Mr. Hooper did and why he had to die
  • 1997: Pretty good song about elephants
  • 2002: Kristin Chenoweth joins cast as Mr. Noodle’s assisted-living worker, Joyce
  • 2013: Sesame Street is converted into luxury condo for a Russian oligarch’s daughter