Sesame Street is a long-running American children's television series created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett.The program is known for its educational content, and creativity communicated through the use of Jim Henson's Muppets, animation, short films, humor, and cultural references. The series premiered on stations on November 10, 1969.
Big Bird has emerged as the surprise star of the 2012 campaign. Mitt Romney says he likes Big Bird but wants to cut federal funding to PBS, while the big yellow bird has appeared in an ad made by President Obama’s campaign.
PBS desperately needed a winner in the late 1960s and was willing to take a chance. Some PBS programming was so poor that the New York Times television critic noted, “congressmen could scarcely be blamed for wondering if a huge permanent investment in noncommercial video is warranted.” Sesame Street was exactly the kind of innovative show that could change the narrative about public broadcasting.
Because the networks turned it down. In 1967, a couple of years before the first episode of Sesame Street aired on PBS, one of the co-founders of the Children’s Television Workshop pitched the concept to executives at NBC and CBS.
Taking a cue from "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," a popular 1960s variety show, "Sesame Street" was built around short, often funny segments featuring puppets, animation and live actors. This format was hugely successful, although over the years some critics have blamed the show and its use of brief segments for shrinking children's attention spans.
After a long search for a catchy name, one of the show's writers suggested “Sesame Street.” The word "sesame," an allusion to the fabled command from The Arabian Nights, "Open, Sesame!" suggested excitement and adventure. Since the show was set in an urban street scene, “Sesame Street” seemed an ideal combination.
Sesame Street encourages children to learn and think about the world by:
Engaging children in language, mathematics, and science through stories, songs, rhyme and repetition; and by demonstrating how people use various strategies, such as observing and predicting, to explore the world around them.
"What if it went down more like ice cream than spinach?" The ensuing creation — in which kids learned everything from empathy to arithmetic under the tutelage of colorful creatures like an 8-ft.-tall canary and a misanthropic garbage-can dweller — was greeted with acclaim by parents, teachers and even President Richard Nixon. Four decades later, it's a cultural touchstone that remains required viewing for millions of youngsters in 120 countries.
Considering that most Muppets start out as bath mats with appliqués, it's fairly miraculous that they seem to have more dimensionality to their personalities than do most human characters on television ... [Henson] understood that viewers would suspend their sense of disbelief if they saw pieces of themselves in the characters.
From the show's inception, one of its most-loved aspects has been a family of puppets known as Muppets. Joan Ganz Cooney hired puppeteer Jim Henson (1936-1990) to create a cast of characters that became Sesame Street institutions, including Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Grover and Big Bird.
Sesame Workshop – the nonpartisan nonprofit behind Sesame Street – wasn’t pleased. In a statement, Sesame Workshop objected to the ad: “We have approved no campaign ads, and, as is our general practice, have requested that both campaigns remove Sesame Street characters and trademarks from their campaign materials.”