Since "Sesame Street's" debut in 1969, hundreds of characters have populated the famous street on the Children's Television Network show. From puppets to humans and animated characters, some have been played by or voiced by the same actor since 1969 and others have gone through multiple actors. Aired in more than 120 countries, it has become the most widely viewed children's show ever.
Humans on the Street
Interacting directly with the Muppets are the human residents. The original characters were husband and wife team Gordon and Susan, Mr. Hooper and Bob. Gordon, named after photographer-filmmaker Gordon Parks, is a science teacher and the first character introduced in the premiere. Susan is the adoptive mother to Miles and a maternal figure to Big Bird and the neighborhood kids. Mr. Hooper was a gruff grocer who ran Hooper's Store. When the actor playing him died, "Sesame Street" aired an episode about his death on Thanksgiving Day, 1983. Bob lives above Mr. Hooper's store and is a music teacher. Maria joined the show as a teenager in 1971. She married Mexican-American repairman Luis on the show and they co-own the Fix-It Shop. They are parents to Gabi. Successors to Mr. Hooper have included David, Mr. Handford and Alan. Linda was the longest-running deaf character on television. She was the local librarian and communicated through American Sign Language.
Around the Corner Expansion
For four seasons starting in 1993, "Sesame Street" added a block that included a hotel, day-care center, jazz club, thrift shop, dance studio, park and newsstand. Residents of this expansion include Angela, the day-care operator, Hoots the Owl, Ruthie, Celina, the Squirrelles, Sherry Netherland, Otis the Elephant Elevator Operator and Benny Rabbit.
Well-Known and Beloved Muppets
Jim Henson's Muppets are the stars of the show and what set "Sesame Street" apart. An original character, 8-foot-tall Big Bird is curious and friendly, often saying, "Asking questions is a good way of finding things out!" Blue-furred and googly-eyed Cookie Monster frequently declares "Me want cookies" as he devours everything in sight. One of the most famous Muppets, Kermit the Frog, was a news reporter on Sesame Street News Flash segments and became well known for the song "Bein' Green." The "I Love Trash" Oscar the Grouch is a grumpy, green Muppet who lives in a trash can. His girlfriend is another Grouch named Grundgetta and he has a pet worm, Slimey, the smallest of the Muppets. Bert and Ernie have been a comic duo since the first episode, with Ernie being naive and Bert wise. Elmo is a red, child Muppet who talks about himself in the third person. Mr. Snuffleupagus, or "Snuffy" was long thought to be Big Bird's imaginary friend until human adults met him in episode 2096. Count von Count parodies Bela Lugosi's Count Dracula and he loves to count. When he is done counting, he lets out a "ha, ha, ha" with thunder and lightning. Grover is a blue creature who describes himself as a "cute, furry little monster."
Many of the animated characters are computer-generated versions of the Muppets, although there are characters such as the Lecture Lady and the Typewriter who are solely animated creations. Abby Cadabby is a young fairy in training with divorced parents who sometimes speaks Dragonfly. She is both a Muppet and an animated character with her own animated segment called "Abby's Flying Fairy School." The school includes the characters Blogg, Gonnigan and Mrs. Sparklenose.
As a professional writer since 1985, Bridgette Redman's career has included journalism, educational writing, book authoring and training. She's worked for daily newspapers, an educational publisher, websites, nonprofit associations and individuals. She is the author of two blogs, reviews live theater and has a weekly column in the "Lansing State Journal." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University.