List of human Sesame Street characters

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Bob McGrath (in 2007), who has played Bob since Sesame Street's premiere in 1969

This page contains the list of human characters that appear in the children's television program Sesame Street. Since the premiere of 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 the original adult human character of Gordon, Loretta Long (who played Gordon's wife Susan), Will Lee (Mr. Hooper), and Bob McGrath (Bob). Unlike most children 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]

According to CTW researchers Shalom M. Fisch and Lewis Bernstein, the results of the test shows, which were never intended for broadcast and presented to preschoolers in 60 homes throughout Philadelphia and in day care centers in New York City in July 1969,[7] were "generally very positive".[8] They 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.[7] However, the researchers found that although children's attention was high during the Muppet segments, their interest wavered during the "Street" segments, when no Muppets were 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.[8][9]

Palmer referred to the Street scenes as "the glue" that "pulled the show together", so producers knew they needed to make significant changes, including defying the recommendations of their advisers. Lesser called this decision "a turning point in the history of Sesame Street". The producers went back and re-shot the Street segments; Muppet creator Jim Henson and his coworkers created Muppets that could interact with the human actors.[1]


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
Luis, played by Emilio Delgado
Charlotte Rae (at the 1988 Emmy awards), who played Molly in the early 1970s on Sesame Street
Michael Jeter (shown here in 1992), who played Mr. Noodle's brother Mr. Noodle
Tina Fey played a pirate captain in Episode 4135 of Sesame Street in 2008
Raul Julia (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[10] Alan Muraoka (1998–present) The proprietor of Hooper's Store following Mr. Handford's departure. According to Sesame, his "warmth and open character has made Hooper's Store the heart of the Sesame Street community".[11]
Alexander "Alex" Alexis Cruz[12] A teenager who lived on Sesame Street (1990–91). Alex is part of a teenage cohort that also included Gina, Mike and Jelani.
Angela Angel Jemmoth Part of the "Around-the-Corner" expansion of the 1990s, Angela was a day care worker. She is the wife to Jamal and mother to baby Kayla.[13]
Armando Ismael Crúz Cordova (2013–present) A Puerto-Rican resident, Latino neighbor, and writer who debuted in season 44.[14]
Robert "Bob" Johnson Bob McGrath (1969–present) 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.[15][16]
Buddy and Jim Brandon Maggart and Jim Catusi[17] A comic duo who failed at many tasks like hanging a picture on the wall. Appeared in first episode of Sesame Street.[18]
Buffy Buffy Sainte-Marie[19] (1975–79) Canadian First Nations folk singer. Buffy appeared in an "understated" scene about breastfeeding with Big Bird and her infant son Cody.[20]
Carlo Carlo Alban (1993–1997) A teenager who worked at Hooper's Store. He is in Gordon's science class.
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.[21][22]
Chris Robinson Chris Knowings[23] (2007–present) Chris is a student who works part-time at Hooper's Store. He is the nephew of Gordon and Susan.[24]
David Northern Calloway[25][26] (1971–1989) A man who 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.[27] When Calloway left the show in 1989 due to medical problems, the character of David was retired and Calloway died on January 9, 1990.
Detective Alfie Betts Adam Rodríguez (Episode 4270) A detective who visited Sesame Street during his vacation.
Edith Ann Lily Tomlin Tomlin's comic, childlike character who appeared in five segments on Sesame Street.[28]
Ernestine Lily Tomlin A telephone operator who works at the Furry Arms Hotel.
Gabriela "Gabi" Rodriguez (born 1989)[29] Dick Maitland's Son (episode 2615)
Gabriela Manzano (baby, 1989–1990)
Desiree Casado (teenage, 1993–present)[30]
Daughter of Luis and Maria Rodriguez. She first appeared as a baby and appears in later episodes as a teenager.[30]
Dr. Gina Jefferson Alison Bartlett-O'Reilly (1987–present)[31] Started on the show as a teenager who worked in Hooper's Store and was part of a teenage consort with Alex, Jelani, and Mike. She later became a veterinarian and adopted a baby named Marco from Guatemala.[32][33]
Gordon Robinson Garrett Saunders (pilot, 1969)[34]
Matt Robinson (1969–1972)
Hal Miller (1972–1974)
Roscoe Orman (1974–present)[35][36]
Named for photographer-filmmaker Gordon Parks.[37] 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".[38]
Hiroshi Gedde Watanabe (1988–1992) Played by the actor from Sixteen Candles, Hiroshi was an artist who is familiar with all forms of art.[13]
Mr. Harold Hooper Will Lee (1969–1983) Original proprietor of Hooper's Store. Lee described Mr. Hooper as "the gruff grocer with the warm heart".[39] After Lee's death, Sesame Street dealt with it in what author Michael Davis called "a landmark broadcast"[40] that aired on Thanksgiving Day, 1983.[41]
Jamal Jou Jou Papailler (1993–1997) Introduced when Sesame Street expanded "Around-the-Corner". Jamal was a park ranger who was married to Angela and had a baby named Kayla.[13]
Jane Tuesday Kyla Taub (2004) Developed to be a strong female role model, Jane is a seven-year old private investigator in a series of short films.[42]
Jason Jason Kingsley (1975) 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.[43]
Jelani Eugene Byrd (1987–1991) A young boy who worked at the music club Birdland as part of the "Around the Corner" expansion. He was part of a teenage consort that also includes Alex, Gina, and Mike.
Jennie Jada Rowland (1969–1973) Appeared in first episode of Sesame Street. She taught Sally how to knit.[18]
Joey Joey Calvan[44] Child who appeared on Sesame Street until she was ten years old because she looked younger than she actually was.[45]
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".[44]
Larry and Phyllis Alan Arkin[46] and Barbara Dana[47] A comedy duo who appeared in sketches during Sesame Street's season two[48]
The Letter A Nicole Sullivan Appeared on the show's direct-to-video project called All Star Alphabet.[28]
The Letter Z Stephen Colbert Appeared on the show's direct-to-video project called All Star Alphabet.[28]
Kayla Rachael McDaniel and Syvae McDaniel Baby daughter of Angela and Jamal.[13]
Leela Nitya Vidyasagar (2008–present) A woman who runs the laundromat next to Hooper's Store. Leela's race of Indian-American was not an issue when the part was being cast.[49]
Lillian Lillias White Fun-loving and affectionate, Lillian ran the family daycare center. Lillias White won an Emmy for the role in 1992.[50][51]
Linda[27] 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.[27][52][53] She often paired up with Maria in silent sketches, notably the Charlie Chaplin sketches.
Luis Rodriguez Emilio Delgado (1971–present) Mexican-American married to Maria and father of Gabi. Luis is "the Mr. Fix-It" of Sesame Street and was the first human addition to the original cast.[54][55]
Marco Jefferson Unknown Performer Gina's adopted son from Guatemala.[56]
Maria Rodriguez Sonia Manzano (1971–present) 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.[57][58] For a number of seasons, Maria appeared in pantomime skits as Charlie Chaplin's character The Tramp.
Miguel Jaime Sánchez (1970–1974) First Latino cast member of Sesame Street.[13]
Mike Ward Saxton (1989–1993) A teenage Fix-It Shop worker. He is part of a teenage consort alongside Alex, Gina, and Jelani.[13]
Miles Robinson Miles Orman (1985–1992)
Kevin Clash (episode 2312)
Imani Patterson (1995–2002)
Olamide Faison (2003–2009)[59]
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.[60]
Molly Charlotte Rae (1971–1975) A female mail carrier who was in season 3. After appearing on Sesame Street, she became famous as Edna Garrett in Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life.[13]
Mr. Handford Leonard Jackson (1989–1990)
David Smyrl (1990–98)[61]
A retired firefighter who was the owner of Hooper's Store following David's departure.[13]
Mr. MacIntosh Chester O'Brien (1971–1975) A Fruit Vendor played by Sesame Street's floor manager.[13][62]
Mr. Noodle Bill Irwin (1998–2002) 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".[63][64]
Mr. Noodle's Brother, Mr. Noodle Michael Jeter (2000–2004) Mr. Noodle's brother who appeared in the Elmo's World segments, often with his brother.[63][65]
Mr. Noodle's Sister, Ms. Noodle Kristin Chenoweth (2004) Mr. Noodle's sister who appeared in the Elmo's World special "Wild, Wild, West" but recently appeared on a few regular segments.[63]
Mr. Noodle's Other Sister, Miss Noodle Sarah Jones (2007) Mr. Noodle's second sister who appeared in the Elmo's World episode "Helping".[63][66]
Mrs. Tupper Loretta Tupper Played by the radio performer of the 1930s and 1940s, she played the piano on Sesame Street.[67]
The Number Painter Paul Benedict (1972) A bowler-capped fellow in several short films, he would randomly pop up in places and paint his surroundings with big white letters.[68]
Olivia Robinson Alaina Reed (1976–1980) Gordon's younger sister and a professional photographer.[69][70]
Petey Eddie Castrodad (1984–1988) A teenager who worked at Hooper's Store. He is an expert breakdancer.
Pirate Captain Tina Fey (episode 4135) A "Swashbuckling captain" of the Bookaneers, a group of pirates who love to read.[71]
Rafael Raul Julia (1971–1975) A Puerto Rican man who was partnered with Luis in the L & R Fix-It Shop. He enjoyed playing with the kids and teaching them Spanish words.[13]
Ruthie Ruth Buzzi (1993–1997) 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".[13][72]
Sally N/A (1969) A young girl who appeared in the first episode of Sesame Street.[73]
Savion Savion Glover (1990–1994)[13] Sesame calls Savion "a street-savvy teenager who was an extraordinary dancer".[74]
Sheldon Sheldon Wolfchild Buffy's husband.[13]
Susan Robinson Loretta Long (1969–present) Sesame Street Unpaved calls Susan a "maternal figure".[75] 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.[76]
Tarah Tarah Lynne Schaeffer (1994–1998) The first regularly appearing character on Sesame Street who used a wheelchair and served as a positive role model for wheelchair-bound children.[77] The actress who played Tarah has osteogenesis imperfecta.[78]
Tom Larry Block (1970–1974) He worked at of Hooper's Store. He was friendly and enjoyed playing with the neighborhood kids.[13]
Trash Gordon Roscoe Orman Spoof of the 1930s superhero Flash Gordon which is a superhero ego of Gordon Robinson.[79]
Uncle Wally Bill McCutcheon (1984–1988) Bob's uncle.[13][80]
Wanda Falbo (Word Fairy) Andrea Martin A character from SCTV who had her own series of segments.[81]
Wally and Ralph Paul Price and Joe Ponazecki (1971–1975) A comedy team in the tradition of Laurel and Hardy who appeared during season 3.[82]
Willy Kermit Love (1970–1974) Sesame Street's Muppet designer who appeared on the show from time to time as a Hot Dog Vendor.[13][83]

See also[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 Davis, p. 167
  7. ^ a b Lesser, p. 164
  8. ^ a b Fisch, Shalom M; Lewis Bernstein (2001). "Formative Research Revealed: Methodological and Process Issues in Formative Research". In Shalom M. Fisch and Rosemarie T. Truglio. "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. 
  9. ^ Gladwell, p. 105
  10. ^ "Alan Muraoka (Alan)". Sesame Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  11. ^ Gikow, p. 81
  12. ^ O'Connor, John J (November 10, 1995). "TV Weekend; A 'Lonesome Dove' Sequel by McMurtry Himself". The New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2009. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Gikow, p. 83
  14. ^ Sesame Street Welcomes New Latino Neighbor Pt. 2
  15. ^ Borgenicht, p. 120
  16. ^ "Bob McGrath (Bob)". Sesame Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Kids Like it Short—and Kids are Bosses". Ebony. January 1970. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  18. ^ a b Episode 0001 (November 10, 1969), in Old School, Volume 1 (Disc 1) [DVD] (2006), Children's Television Workshop
  19. ^ "Buffy Sainte-Marie Wolfchild (Buffy)". Sesame Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  20. ^ Davis, p. 236
  21. ^ Borgenicht, p. 127
  22. ^ "Annette Calud (Celina)". Sesame Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Chris Knowings (Chris)". Sesame Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  24. ^ Gikow, pp. 62–63
  25. ^ "Northern Calloway, actor, 41, on Stage and 'Sesame Street'". The New York Times. January 13, 1990. pp. 1–33. Retrieved October 11, 2009. 
  26. ^ "Northern Calloway (David)". Sesame Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  27. ^ a b c Borgenicht, p. 121
  28. ^ a b c Gikow, p. 125
  29. ^ Truglio, Rosemarie T; Valeria O. Lovelace; Ivelisse Seqhi; Susan Scheiner (2001). "The Varied Role of Formative Research: Case Studies From 30 years". In Shalom M. Fisch and Rosemarie T. Truglio. "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. 
  30. ^ a b "Desiree Casado (Gabi Rodriguez)". Sesame Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  31. ^ Davis, p. 291
  32. ^ Gikow, p. 80
  33. ^ "Alison Bartlett-O'Reilly (Gina)". Sesame Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  34. ^ Sesame Street on Tumblr: "We Found Gordon!", December 9, 2011.
  35. ^ Gikow, p. 72
  36. ^ "Roscoe Orman (Gordon)". Sesame Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  37. ^ Davis, p. 168
  38. ^ Davis, p. 182
  39. ^ Davis, p. 178
  40. ^ Davis, p. 284
  41. ^ "Will Lee (Mr. Hooper)". Sesame Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  42. ^ "Jane Tuesday World Broadcast Premiere" (Press release). PR Web. April 29, 2004. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  43. ^ Gikow, p. 181
  44. ^ a b Gikow, p. 123
  45. ^ Borgenicht, p. 83
  46. ^ Geissler, Hazel (November 7, 1970). "'Sesame Street' returns Monday". The Evening Independent (St. Petersburg FL). p. B1. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  47. ^ Polner, Murray (1982). American Jewish biographies. Facts on File, inc. p. 493. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  48. ^ Episode 0131 (1970-11-1090), in Old School, Volume 1 (Disc 2) [DVD] (2006), Children's Television Workshop
  49. ^ Young, Matt (August 15, 2009). "Sesame Street Star". Southern Courier. Retrieved January 4, 2011. 
  50. ^ Rothstein, Mervyn (January 4, 2010). "A Life in the Theatre: Lillias White". Playbill. Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  51. ^ "Lillias White (Lillian)". Sesame Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  52. ^ Gikow, p. 70
  53. ^ "Linda Bove (Linda)". Sesame Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  54. ^ Borgenicht, p. 119
  55. ^ "Emilio Delgado (Luis)". Sesame Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  56. ^ Gikow, p. 80, 217
  57. ^ Borgenicht, p. 118
  58. ^ "Sonia Manzano (Maria)". Sesame Retrieved January 12, 2011. 
  59. ^ Gikow, pp. 122–123
  60. ^ "Olamide Faison (Miles Robinson)". Sesame Retrieved January 12, 2011. 
  61. ^ "David L. Smyrl (Mr. Handford)". Sesame Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  62. ^ "Chet O'Brien (Mr. MacIntosh)". Sesame Retrieved January 12, 2011. 
  63. ^ a b c d Gikow, p. 169
  64. ^ "Bill Irwin (Mr. Noodle)". Sesame Retrieved January 13, 2011. 
  65. ^ "Michael Jeter (The Other Mr. Noodle)". Sesame Retrieved January 13, 2011. 
  66. ^ Morrow, pp. 104—105
  67. ^ "Loretta Tupper, 84, A Radio Entertainer". The New York Times. September 22, 1990. Retrieved February 20, 2011. 
  68. ^ Finn, Natalie (December 4, 2008). "Paul Benedict, Jeffersons Neighbor & Sesame Street Painter, Found Dead". E Online. Retrieved February 22, 2011. 
  69. ^ Piazza, Jo (December 22, 2009). "'Sesame Street,' '227' Star Alaina Reed-Amini Dies". Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  70. ^ "Alaina Reed (Olivia)". Sesame Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  71. ^ Walsh-Boyle, Megan (August 13, 2007). "Tina Fey Rocks Sesame Street's World (and Vice Versa)". TV Guide. Retrieved March 11, 2011. 
  72. ^ "Ruth Buzzi (Ruthie)". Sesame Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  73. ^ Davis, p. 193
  74. ^ "Savion Glover (Savion)". Sesame Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  75. ^ Borgenicht, p. 123
  76. ^ "Loretta Long (Susan)". Sesame Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  77. ^ Tofig, Sarah (October 31, 1993). "Plainville Girl Takes Her Own Magic To 'Sesame Street'". Hartford Courant. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  78. ^ Williams Cook, Sally (January 17, 1994). "Girl in wheelchair joins 'Sesame Street' cast". The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg VA). p. B6. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  79. ^ Gikow, p. 73
  80. ^ "Bill McCutcheon (Uncle Wally)". Sesame Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  81. ^ "Andrea in Film and Television". I Am Andrea Martin. Andrea Martin. 2011. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  82. ^ Gikow, p. 85
  83. ^ "Kermit Love: Costume Designer, Puppeteer and Creator of Big Bird". The Sunday Times. June 28, 2008. Retrieved March 6, 2011. 


  • 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