As Count von Count would say, “The number of the day is 50. Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!”
After debuting on Nov. 10, 1969, on public television, the landmark TV show, “Sesame Street,” is celebrating 50 years of teaching generations of children around the world the alphabet, how to count and read, and love to learn.
The first episode of the show introduced the world to a family of Muppets created by Jim Henson (1936-1990) and who are one of its most-loved aspects: giant yellow Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, a green (initially orange) Muppet who lives in a garbage can, Cookie Monster, the blue, furry monster who loves cookies, Kermit the Frog, Bert and Ernie, Grover, Elmo and so many more characters children fell in love with. Count von Count himself came along in 1972.
The show was the brainchild of Joan Ganz Cooney, a former documentary producer for public television. Cooney’s goal was to create programming for preschoolers that was both entertaining and educational. She also wanted to use TV as a way to help underprivileged 3- to 5-year-olds prepare for kindergarten. “Sesame Street” was set in a fictional New York neighborhood and included ethnically diverse characters and positive social messages.
Beyond the songs and fun, “Sesame Street” has evolved with the times and does some serious work for those in need, providing special support and guidance for military families and addressing topics like autism, HIV and addition, most recently tackling the opioids crisis.
With its memorable theme song (“Can you tell me how to get/How to get to Sesame Street”), “Sesame Street” has produced over 4,500 episodes, 35 TV specials, 200 home videos, and 180 albums. Its YouTube channel has almost 5 million subscribers. It was announced last month that first-run episodes will move to HBO Max beginning with its 51st season in 2020.