|Born||Loretta Mae Moore
October 4, 1938
Paw Paw, Michigan, U.S.
|Occupation||Actress, singer, educator|
Loretta Mae Long (née Moore) (born October 4, 1938) is an African American actress, singer, media personality, and educator, best known for playing Susan Robinson on Sesame Street, having starred on the show since its debut in 1969.
Born in Paw Paw, Michigan, she earned her Ph.D. in urban education in 1973 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst while she was starring on Sesame Street. She has acted in musicals (such as Guys and Dolls) and appeared on the Flip Wilson Show with other Sesame Street cast members during its first season.
As of 2017, Long's character Susan, along with Big Bird / Oscar the Grouch (Caroll Spinney), is one of only two remaining original characters who are still played by the actors who originated the roles, although Bob McGrath still appears on an itinerant basis. In the early years, she voiced a few female Muppet voices including Roosevelt Franklin's mother, Suzetta and other Muppets where a female voice was needed.
Before the days of Sesame Street, Long served as co-host of the WNET -T / Channel 13 program SOUL! a weekly music, cultural, social and artistic PBS program. She co-hosted that video-taped program from its premier broadcast on Sept. 12, 1968 (when she co-hosted with Alvin Poussaint, the noted black Harvard psychologist) through December 5, 1968, when she co-hosted with then-future SOUL! sole co-host Ellis Haizlip. At the same time, Long also was a substitute teacher in New York City. She continued to substitute teach during her early days working for Sesame Street, occasionally causing confusion for her students who had watched her on Sesame Street before coming to school and then in their classroom later that same morning.
Long commuted to the University of Massachusetts on her days off from Sesame Street to complete a Ph.D., awarded in 1973. Her Ph.D. dissertation "Sesame Street": A Space Age Approach to Education for Space Age Kids examined the educational model used on Sesame Street.
The main role played on Sesame Street by Long is the role of Susan, the wife of Gordon Robinson. In early seasons, her character was a housewife; however, in later seasons, her role expanded to that of being a nurse, as well as the mother of adopted son Miles.
Long has also lent her voice to various Muppet segments on Sesame Street, particularly in the early seasons. On the 8th episode of the first season (1969), Long sang the voice of the mother Muppet in the song "Five People in My Family." She also provided the voice for the mother of Roosevelt Franklin, and the voice of a backup singer in the nonsense song "Mahna Mahna."
She recorded Susan Sings Songs from Sesame Street (Scepter Records SPS-584) in 1970, including such favorites as the "ABC Song" and "If You're Happy and You Know It." The album reached #86 on Billboard's Top LP's chart and was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category Best Recording for Children in 1971, ultimately losing to another Sesame Street recording.
Long was raised on a farm in Paw Paw, Michigan. She was married for a time to Pete Long, with whom she worked with on the variety series SOUL!
On February 10, 2010, Long was struck by a car as she crossed Route 130 in East Windsor, New Jersey, suffering head wounds as a result. She was listed in fair condition following the accident, but made a full recovery.
|1969–present||Sesame Street||Susan Robinson
Roosevelt Franklin's Mother
One of the Anything Muppet backup singers in "Mahna Mahna"
Mother in "Five People in My Family"
Various other Muppet characters
- Emmy TV Legends interview at 1:30 in part 1
- SesameStreet.Org. "Loretta's Biography". Retrieved 13 July 2012.
- Discogs. "Loretta Long – Susan Sings Songs From Sesame Street (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Retrieved 13 July 2012.
- Discogs. "Loretta Long—Rainy-Day Friend / July the 12, 1939 (Vinyl)". Retrieved 13 July 2012.
- Fair, Matt (2010-02-11). "Actress hit by car recovering". The Times, Trenton. Retrieved 11 February 2010.