List of human Sesame Street characters

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Bob McGrath (in 2007), who has played Bob since the premiere in 1969

Since the premiere of the children's television program Sesame Street on November 10, 1969, it has included what writer Malcolm Gladwell has called "the essence of Sesame Street—the artful blend of fluffy monsters and earnest adults".[1] The original cast, chosen by producer Jon Stone, consisted of four human actors—Matt Robinson, who played Gordon; Loretta Long, who played Gordon's wife, Susan; Will Lee, who played Mr. Hooper; and Bob McGrath, who played Bob. Unlike most children's television programs at the time, the producers of Sesame Street decided against using a single host and cast a group of ethnically diverse actors,[2] with, as Sesame Street researcher Gerald S. Lesser put it, "a variety of distinctive and reliable personalities".[3]

Stone did not audition actors until spring 1969, a few weeks before five shows, designed to test the show's appeal to children and to examine their comprehension of the material, were due to be filmed. Stone videotaped the auditions, and researcher Ed Palmer took them out into the field to test children's reactions. The actors who received the "most enthusiastic thumbs up" were cast.[4] For example, when the children saw Long's audition, they stood up and sang along with her rendition of "I'm a Little Teapot".[4][5] As Stone said, casting was the only aspect of the show that was "just completely haphazard".[6] Most of the cast and crew found jobs on Sesame Street through personal relationships with Stone and the other producers.[6]

The results of the test shows, which were never intended for broadcast and shown to preschoolers in 60 homes throughout Philadelphia and in day care centers in New York City in July 1969,[6] were "generally very positive".[7] The researchers found that children learned from the shows, that the show's appeal was high, and that children's attention was sustained over the full hour.[6] However, they found that, although children's attention was high during the Muppet segments, their interest wavered when there were only humans on screen. The producers had followed the advice of child psychologists who were concerned that children would be confused, and had recommended that human actors and Muppets not be shown together. As a result of this decision, the appeal of the test episodes was lower than they would have liked,[7][8] so the show's producers knew they needed to make significant changes, including defying the recommendations of their advisers and show the human and Muppet characters together. Lesser called this decision "a turning point in the history of Sesame Street". Muppet creator Jim Henson and his coworkers created Muppets for Sesame Street that could interact with the human actors, and many segments were re-shot.[1]

Characters[edit]

Buffy Sainte-Marie, shown here in 2009, who appeared on Sesame Street in the late 1970s
Lily Tomlin (2008), one of the many celebrities who have appeared on the show and portrayer of Edith Ann and Ernestine the Telephone Operator
Roscoe Orman, who has played Gordon since 1974, shown here in 2007
Matt Robinson, who played Gordon on Sesame Street from 1969 to 1972.
Luis, played by Emilio Delgado
Charlotte Rae (at the 1988 Emmy Awards), who played Molly in the early 1970s
Michael Jeter (shown here in 1992), who played Mr. Noodle's brother Mr. Noodle
Tina Fey played a pirate captain in episode 4135 in 2008
Raúl Juliá (shown here in 1984), who played Rafael in 1971
Ruth Buzzi (shown here in 2008), who played Ruthie in the late 1990s
Character Actor Description
Alan
(1998–present)
Alan Muraoka[9] The proprietor of Hooper's Store following Mr. Handford's departure. According to Sesame Street.org, his "warmth and open character has made Hooper's Store the heart of the Sesame Street community".[10]
Alexander "Alex" Alexis Cruz Cruz was hired by producer Dulcy Singer as a part of a curriculum push about race relations.[11]
Angela Angel Jemmott Part of the "Around-the-Corner" expansion of the 1990s, Angela was a day care worker. She was the wife of Jamal and mother of baby Kayla.[12]
Armando "Mando"
(2013–present)
Ismael Cruz Córdova An energetic Latino writer and "techie [who] loves his gadgets".[13]
Robert "Bob" Johnson
(1969–present)
Bob McGrath A regular on the show since its premiere, Bob is Sesame Street's resident music teacher who lives in an apartment above Hooper's Store.[14][15]
Buddy and Jim Brandon Maggart and Jim Catusi[16] A comic duo who failed at many tasks like hanging a picture on the wall. Appeared in the first episode of Sesame Street.[17]
Buffy
(1975–81)
Buffy Sainte-Marie[18] Canadian First Nations folk singer. Buffy appeared in an "understated" scene about breastfeeding with Big Bird and her infant son Cody.[19]
Carlo
(1993–1998)
Carlo Alban A teenager who was a regular on the show for five years.[20]
Celina Annette Calud A regular for four years who was part of the "Around the Corner" expansion. Celina owned and ran a dance studio above the "Finders Keepers" thrift shop.[18][21]
Chris Robinson (2006–present) Chris Knowings Chris is a student who works part-time at Hooper's Store. He is the nephew of Gordon and Susan.[22][23]
Cody
(1977)
Dakota Starblanket Wolfchild Infant son of Buffy Saint-Marie and Sheldon Wolfchild; was breast-fed by his mother on-air, and helped demonstrate sibling rivalry with Big Bird.[24]
David
(1971–1989)
Northern Calloway[18][25] Worked for Mr. Hooper at Hooper's Store and lived in an apartment above the store. He later became proprietor of Hooper's Store following Mr. Hooper's death. According to Sesame Street Unpaved, "He was that funny, upbeat, cool-looking guy" who dated Maria.[26]
Edith Ann Lily Tomlin Tomlin's comic, childlike character who appeared in five segments on Sesame Street.[27]
Ernestine
(1993)
Lily Tomlin Tomlin's famous nasal-voice telephone operator, appearing in the special Sesame Street Stays Up Late! A Monster New Year's Eve Party[28][29]
Gabriela "Gabi" Rodriguez Gabriela Rose Reagan (1989–91)[30]
Desiree Casado (1993–)[31]
Daughter of Luis and Maria Rodriguez (born 1989).[32] She is good friends with Miles and graduated from high school with him.[31]
Dr. Gina Jefferson Alison Bartlett-O'Reilly (1987–present)[33] Started on the show as a teenager who worked in Hooper's Store. She ran a day-care center, later became a veterinarian, and adopted a baby named Marco from Guatemala.[34][35]
Gordon Robinson
(1969–present)
Garrett Saunders (1969)[36]
Matt Robinson (1969–1972)
Hal Miller (1972–1974)
Roscoe Orman (1974–)[37][38]
Named for photographer-filmmaker Gordon Parks.[39] Gordon is a science teacher who owns the brownstone "123 Sesame Street" building with his wife Susan. He is the first character introduced in the show's premiere. Davis described him as "a dutiful husband and steady provider, a well-liked and respected figure in the neighborhood".[40]
Hiroshi
(1988–1991)
Gedde Watanabe An artist[12]
Mr. Harold Hooper
(1969–1983)
Will Lee The original proprietor of Hooper's Store. Lee described Mr. Hooper as "the gruff grocer with the warm heart".[41] Sesame Street dealt with Lee's 1982 death in it in what author Michael Davis called "a landmark broadcast"[42] that aired on Thanksgiving Day, 1983.[18]
Jamal
(1993–1995)
Jou Jou Papailler Introduced when Sesame Street expanded "Around-the-Corner". Jamal was a park ranger who was married to Angela and had a baby named Kayla.[12]
Jane Tuesday (2004) Kyla Taub Developed to be a strong female role model, Jane is a seven-year-old private investigator in a series of short films.[43]
Jason
(1975)
Jason Kingsley Child with Down syndrome who made a few appearances on the show. Jason was the son of writer Emily Kingsley, who pushed for more inclusion of people with disabilities on the show.[44]
Jelani
(1987–1991)
Eugene Byrd Byrd was hired by producer Dulcy Singer as a part of a curriculum push about race relations.[11][45]
Jennie
(1969–1973)
Jada Rowland Appeared in first episode of Sesame Street. She taught Sally how to knit.[17]
Joey Joey Calvan[46] A child who appeared on Sesame Street until she was ten years old because she looked younger than she actually was.[47]
John-John John Williams III Best known for his count-to-20 segment with Herry Monster, he had what Gikow called an "effortless connection to the Muppets and the bold confidence of his delivery".[46]
Kayla Rachael McDaniel and Syvae McDaniel Baby daughter of Angela and Jamal.[12]
Larry and Phyllis Alan Arkin and Barbara Dana Played by real-life husband-and-wife, they taught cooperation during season two.[48][49]
The Letter A Nicole Sullivan Appeared on the show's direct-to-video project called All Star Alphabet.[27]
The Letter Z Stephen Colbert Appeared on the show's direct-to-video project called All Star Alphabet.[27]
Leela Nitya Vidyasagar The show's first Indian American character, Leela runs the laundromat next to Hooper's Store.[50]
Lillian Lillias White Fun-loving and affectionate, Lillian ran the family daycare center. White won an Emmy for the role in 1992.[18][51]
Linda Linda Bove The neighborhood librarian and Bob's girlfriend. She was also the original owner of Barkley and communicates with him and others through American Sign Language. Linda is the longest-running Deaf character on television.[18][26]
Luis Rodriguez
(1971–present)
Emilio Delgado A Mexican-American repairman who is Maria's husband and Gabi's father. Luis is "the Mr. Fix-It" of Sesame Street and was the first human addition to the original cast.[52][53]
Marco Jefferson Gina's adopted son from Guatemala.[54]
Maria Figueroa-Rodriguez
(1971–present)
Sonia Manzano Part of Sesame Street since she was a teenager, Maria co-owns the Fix-It Shop with her husband Luis (whom she married later on the show). She also dated David for a while and is Gabi's mother. After she and Luis married, they moved into a second-floor apartment at 123 Sesame Street.[55][56]
Miguel
(1970–1974)
Jaime Sánchez First Latino cast member[12]
Mike
(1989–1991)
Ward Saxton A teenage Fix-It Shop worker.[12]
Miles Robinson Miles Orman (1985–1995)
Kevin Clash (episode 2312)
Imani Patterson (1995–2002)
Olamide Faison (2003–)[57]
The adopted son of Gordon and Susan Robinson. Shy as a child, Miles grew into a fun-loving teenager and eventually formed his own band.[18]
Molly
(1971–1975)
Charlotte Rae A female mail carrier who debuted in season 3. After appearing on Sesame Street, Rae became famous as Edna Garrett in Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life.[12]
Mr. Handford Leonard Jackson (1989–1990)
David Smyrl (1990–1998)[12]
A retired firefighter who was the owner of Hooper's Store following David's departure.[18]
Mr. MacIntosh
(1971–1992)
Chester O'Brien A fruit vendor and soft-shoe dancer played by Sesame Street's floor manager.[12][18]
Mr. Noodle
(1998–2002)
Bill Irwin[18] A mime featured in the Elmo's World whose mistakes empower viewers to, as writer Louise Gikow puts it, "call out instructions that allow them to feel smarter than the adult".[58]
Mr. Noodle's Brother, Mr. Noodle (2000–2004) Michael Jeter Mr. Noodle's brother who appeared in the Elmo's World segments, often with his brother.[18][58]
Mr. Noodle's Sister, Ms. Noodle (2004) Kristin Chenoweth Mr. Noodle's sister who appeared in Elmo's World.[58]
Mrs. Trump Loretta Tupper Played by the radio performer of the 1930s and 1940s, she played the piano on Sesame Street.[59]
The Number Painter
(1972)
Paul Benedict A bowler-capped fellow in several short films, he would randomly pop up in places and paint his surroundings with big red numbers.[60]
Olivia Robinson
(1976–1988)
Alaina Reed Gordon's younger sister and a professional photographer.[18][61]
Pirate Captain (2007) Tina Fey A "Swashbuckling captain" of the Bookaneers, a group of pirates who love to read.[62]
Rafael
(1971–1975)
Raul Julia A Puerto Rican man who was partnered with Luis in the L & R Fix-It Shop.[12]
Ruthie
(1993–1998)
Ruth Buzzi Owner of Sesame Street's thrift shop Finders Keepers as part of the "Around the Corner" expansion. She used the objects in the store to tell "fascinating stories".[12][18]
Sally
(1969)
Holly Robinson (daughter of Matt) A young girl who appeared in the first episode of Sesame Street[63]
Savion
(1990–1995)[12]
Savion Glover Sesame Street.org calls Savion "a street-savvy teenager who was an extraordinary dancer".[18]
Sheldon Sheldon Wolfchild Buffy's husband and Cody's father; the family's appearance on the show was called "the first time Sesame Street has had a nuclear family".[24]
Susan Robinson
(1969–present)
Loretta Long Sesame Street Unpaved calls Susan a "maternal figure".[64] At first a homemaker, she evolved into a public health nurse. She is the wife of Gordon, adoptive mother of Miles, and surrogate mother to Big Bird and the neighborhood kids.[65]
Tarah
(1993-2001)
Tarah Lynne Schaeffer The first regularly appearing character on Sesame Street who used a wheelchair; served as a positive role model for children with disabilities.[66][67]
Tom
(1970–1974)
Larry Block Worked at Hooper's Store.[12]
Trash Gordon Roscoe Orman Spoof of the 1930s superhero Flash Gordon. He is the alter-ego of Gordon.[68]
Uncle Wally
(1984–1992)
Bill McCutcheon A "colorful, bow-tie wearing character" who was also Bob's uncle.[12][18]
Wanda Falbo (Word Fairy)
(1989–2000)
Andrea Martin Played by SCTV alum who won an Emmy for her work on Sesame Street.[69][70]
Wally and Ralph
(1971–1975)
Paul Price and Joe Ponazecki A comedy team in the tradition of Laurel and Hardy who appeared during season 3.[71]
Willy
(1970s–early 1990s)
Kermit Love Hot dog vendor. He was played by the Muppet designer who created Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus.[18][72]

See also[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gladwell, p. 106
  2. ^ Lesser, p. 99
  3. ^ Lesser, p. 125
  4. ^ a b Borgenicht, p. 15
  5. ^ Davis, p. 172
  6. ^ a b c d Davis, p. 167
  7. ^ a b Fisch, Shalom M.; Bernstein, Lewis (2001). "Formative Research Revealed: Methodological and Process Issues in Formative Research". In Fisch, Shalom M.; Truglio, Rosemarie T. "G" is for Growing: Thirty Years of Research on Children and Sesame Street. Mahweh, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers. p. 39. ISBN 0-8058-3395-1. 
  8. ^ Gladwell, p. 105
  9. ^ Gikow, p. 81
  10. ^ "Alan Muraoka (Alan): Alan's Biography". Sesame Street.org. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Lipton, Laura (11 November 1990). "Dulcy Singer: 22 Years on a Changing 'Street'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Gikow, p. 83
  13. ^ Grode, Eric (30 August 2013). "A Chameleon Onstage and on TV". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  14. ^ Borgenicht, p. 120
  15. ^ "Bob McGrath (Bob): Bob's Biography". Sesame Street.org. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "Kids Like it Short--and Kids are Bossy". Ebony. January 1970. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  17. ^ a b Episode 0001 (November 10, 1969), in Old School, Volume 1 (Disc 1) [DVD] (2006), Children's Television Workshop
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Additional Cast". Sesame Street.org. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  19. ^ Davis, p. 236
  20. ^ Dailey, Kate (24 November 2011). "I is for Illegal: Acting on Sesame Street without a visa". BBC News Magazine. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  21. ^ Borgenicht, p. 127
  22. ^ "Christopher Knowings (Christopher): Christopher's Biography". Sesame Street.org. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  23. ^ Gikow, pp. 62–63
  24. ^ a b "Sesame Street Gets Family". The Times-News (Henderson, North Carolina). 9 April 1977. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  25. ^ "Northern Calloway, Actor, 41, on Stage And 'Sesame Street'". The New York Times. 13 January 1990. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  26. ^ a b Borgenicht, p. 121
  27. ^ a b c Gikow, p. 125
  28. ^ Clarke, Carolyn V. (February 1995). "Kevin Clash, Principle Muppeteer, Jim Henson Productions". Black Enterprise: 95. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  29. ^ Storm, Jonathan (29 December 1993). "It's Oofnik The Grouch On This 'Sesame Street'". The Philadelphia Enquirer. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  30. ^ Gikow, p. 122
  31. ^ a b "Desiree Casado: Desiree's Biography". Sesame Street.org. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  32. ^ Truglio, Rosemarie T.; Lovelace, Valeria O.; Seqhi, Ivelisse; Scheiner, Scheiner (2001). "The Varied Role of Formative Research: Case Studies From 30 years". In Fisch, Shalom M.; Truglio, Rosemarie T. "G" is for Growing: Thirty Years of Research on Children and Sesame Street. Mahweh, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers. p. 74. ISBN 0-8058-3395-1. 
  33. ^ Davis, p. 291
  34. ^ Gikow, p. 80
  35. ^ "Alison Bartlett O'Reilly: Alison's Biography". Sesame Street.org. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  36. ^ "The Case of the Missing Gordon". Sesame Street.org. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  37. ^ Gikow, p. 72
  38. ^ "Roscoe Orman: Roscoe's Biography". Sesame Street.org. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  39. ^ Davis, p. 168
  40. ^ Davis, p. 182
  41. ^ Davis, p. 178
  42. ^ Davis, p. 284
  43. ^ "Jane Tuesday World Broadcast Premiere" (Press release). PR Web.com. 29 April 2004. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  44. ^ Gikow, p. 181
  45. ^ Fearn-Banks, Kathleen (2006). Historical Dictionary of African-American Television. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 62. ISBN 0-8108-5335-3. 
  46. ^ a b Gikow, p. 123
  47. ^ Borgenicht, p. 83
  48. ^ Lague, Louise (26 March 1979). "Stardom Was a Catch-22 for Alan Arkin, but His Wife and a Guru Helped Beat the System". People Magazine 11 (12). Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  49. ^ Episode 0131 (1970-11-1090), in Old School, Volume 1 (Disc 2) [DVD] (2006), Children's Television Workshop
  50. ^ "Nitya Vidyasagar: Nitya's Biography". Sesame Street.org. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  51. ^ Rothstein, Mervyn (4 January 2010). "A Life in the Theatre: Lillias White". Playbill. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  52. ^ Borgenicht, p. 119
  53. ^ "Emilio Delgado: Emilio's Biography". Sesame Street.org. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  54. ^ Gikow, p. 80, 217
  55. ^ Borgenicht, p. 118
  56. ^ "Sonia Manzano: Sonia's Biography". Sesame Street.org. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  57. ^ Gikow, pp. 122—123
  58. ^ a b c Gikow, p. 169
  59. ^ "Loretta Tupper, 84, A Radio Entertainer". The New York Times. 22 September 1990. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  60. ^ Finn, Natalie (4 December 2008). "Paul Benedict, Jeffersons Neighbor & Sesame Street Painter, Found Dead". Eonline.com. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  61. ^ Piazza, Jo (22 December 2009). "'Sesame Street,' '227' star Alaina Reed-Amini dies". CNN.com. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  62. ^ Walsh-Boyle, Megan (13 August 2007). "Tina Fey Rocks Sesame Street's World (and Vice Versa)". TV Guide.com. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  63. ^ Davis, p. 193
  64. ^ Borgenicht, p. 123
  65. ^ "Loretta Long: Loretta's Biography". Sesame Street.org. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  66. ^ Tofig, Diana (31 October 1993). "Plainville Girl Takes Her Own Magic To `Sesame Street'". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  67. ^ Cook, Sally Williams (17 January 1994). "Girl in Wheelchair Joins 'Sesame Street' Cast". The Free Lance-Star (Fredricksburg, Virginia). Associated Press. p. B6. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  68. ^ Gikow, p. 73
  69. ^ "Andrea in Film and Television". I am Andrea Martin.com. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  70. ^ Anstead, Alicia (3 March 2005). "Funny Woman; ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ latest role for Maine native Andrea Martin". Bangor Daily News. p. C1. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  71. ^ Gikow, p. 85
  72. ^ Hevesi, Dennis (24 June 2008). "Kermit Love, Costume Creator, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 

References[edit]

  • Borgenicht, David (1998). Sesame Street Unpaved. New York: Hyperion Publishing. ISBN 0-7868-6460-5
  • Davis, Michael (2008). Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street. New York: Viking Penguin. ISBN 978-0-670-01996-0
  • Gikow, Louise A. (2009). Sesame Street: A Celebration—Forty Years of Life on the Street. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. ISBN 978-1-57912-638-4.
  • Gladwell, Malcolm (2000). The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. New York: Little, Brown, and Company. ISBN 0-316-31696-2