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December 07, 2012

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The Long Journey of a Letter to Big Bird

By Marissa Dombkowski



I never believed that things happen for a reason. Rather, I thought this was just something said to help a person cope when things don’t go their way. But earlier this week, when I found myself on the set of Sesame Street standing next to my childhood idol, I instantly became a believer.

As a young girl I had always been a fan of Sesame Street, but in 2003 when I was 12 years old, I realized that just being a fan was not enough anymore. I happened to see an A & E documentary on the beloved children’s television show that gave a behind the scenes look at the production, the people and the puppeteers involved.  It was during this documentary that I learned about Caroll Spinney; the wonderfully talented performer bringing the characters of Big Bird and Oscar to life. Suddenly, two things became apparent: I needed to write a letter to Caroll telling him how big of a fan I was and I needed to find out exactly how to get to Sesame Street. Read More

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March 20, 2012

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Happy Birthday Big Bird: An Interview with Sesame Street’s Caroll Spinney

By Graydon Gordian


Big Bird in 1969, Sesame Street's inaugural year

It’s the first day of Spring. You know what that means? It’s Big Bird’s birthday! In order to celebrate Big Bird’s special day, we spoke with Caroll Spinney, who has played Big Bird, as well as Oscar the Grouch, on the show for 42 years.  During his time on Sesame Street, Mr. Spinney has touched the lives of millions of children. We want to thank him for taking the time to tell us about how he first got started on Sesame Street, how the character of Big Bird evolved and what his favorite memories from the show are.

Sesame Workshop: Tell me how you first got involved with Sesame Street.

Caroll Spinney: Jim Henson saw me doing my own puppet show and came backstage afterwards and asked if I wanted to join the Muppets. As a puppeteer I felt the Muppets were the Beatles of the puppet world. Jim said he wanted to build a goofy bird and also Oscar the Grouch, which was going to be a goofy purple thing that lived in a pile of trash.

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This Week in Sesame Street: Our Furry Friends Visit the White House

By Graydon Gordian


On Tuesday, February 7, beloved Sesame Street monster Grover stopped by the White House to help White House Chef Sam Kass and the children of chefs who currently work in the White House learn about the ways kids can help their parents prepare a tasty and healthy meal. The Sesame Street MuppetsTM have a long history of visiting the White House, so in today’s edition of, “This Week in Sesame Street,” we’re talking about some of the times our furry friends have had a chance to hang out with the President.

The Sesame Street MuppetsTM made their first appearance at the White House on December 20, 1970, when Big Bird, Mr. Hooper and the rest of the gang joined First Lady Pat Nixon, wife of Richard Nixon, to perform a Christmas show for an audience of excited children.

The cast of Sesame Street at Richard Nixon's White House.

That would hardly be the last time our friends from Sesame Street would stop by the president’s home. Big Bird made Christmas time appearances during both Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter’s administrations, the latter of which included a performance with Kermit the Frog and Joe Raposo, composer of the Sesame Street theme song, in the East Room of the White House. In fact, Sesame Street MuppetsTM would go on to visit the White House of every subsequent president: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all invited Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster and other Sesame Street MuppetsTM back to the White House for various reasons.

Big Bird appears with Betty Ford, wife of President Gerald Ford, at the White House.

Whether it be for Christmas celebrations, Easter egg hunts, to encourage literacy at the National Book Festival, or in order to teach kids lessons about healthy eating like their most recent visit, the Sesame Street MuppetsTM have been welcomed guests at the home of the president for over 40 years.

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This Week in Sesame Street: Big Bird’s First Visit to Hollywood Squares

By Graydon Gordian


Welcome to This Week in Sesame Street, a new feature in which we’ll revisit all the funny, touching and memorable moments Sesame Street has produced since it was first aired in 1969. This week we’re taking a look back at the first time Big Bird appeared on the classic game show Hollywood Squares.

Hollywood Squares has had countless famous guests over the years, but none quite like Big Bird. On January 19, 1976, Big Bird was a guest on the show for the first time. Plopped down next to Broadway star Carol Channing, best known for her work in Hello Dolly! and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Big Bird answered questions on birds (an expertise of his), Broadway musicals and even chimed in to help out Channing a time or two.

It would hardly be the last time Big Bird appeared on the now-defunct show: Between 1979 and 2001, Big Bird would appear on the show 14 times, most coming during the years in which Peter Marshall (whom Big Bird lovingly referred to as “Mr. Marshmallow”) was host. He also wasn’t the only Sesame Street character to appear on the show: Oscar the Grouch and Elmo have both been guests as well.

For video of Big Bird’s appearance, click here.

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