A New Book Maps the History of 'Sesame Street'

By Moore, Frazier | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 27, 2008 | Go to article overview

A New Book Maps the History of 'Sesame Street'


Moore, Frazier, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


NEW YORK -- How to get to "Sesame Street" is child's play, as the chirpy theme song has assured kids daily for 39 years.

But first it had to be created. In the new book "Street Gang: The Complete History of 'Sesame Street,'" journalist Michael Davis takes us on the journey with thoroughness and obvious affection.

While this history travels some familiar ground, the story in its fullness should cause readers to marvel at what a charmed alignment "Sesame Street" represents: Here, an era of social activism coincided with a strategy for channeling TV to help underprivileged youngsters, which all led to this newfangled show, along with an institution (now called Sesame Workshop) to cradle it.

An early outline for the show had already identified the essentials: It would be a daily hourlong program for 3- to 5-year- olds, shot on tape, with music, puppets and stories. The goal: to help kids learn their ABCs and count from one to 10.

Other details weren't so quickly nailed down, like who might air it. According to "Street Gang," both CBS and NBC had a chance, but each rejected the project.

"All the applause, all the gratitude from parents, all the awards and recognition," plus millions from licensing and merchandising -- this was for the taking by either network. As Davis writes, "Turning down 'Sesame Street' was a billion-dollar blunder."

It debuted, instead, on PBS on Nov. 10, 1969, and from its first day, the show made everything look easy -- including itself.

But the four years before that had been jammed with brainstorming, fundraising, meticulous research and remarkable invention. One major "aha" moment: the decision to teach numbers and letters with parody commercials. It was a revolutionary idea then and an educational hallmark ever since.

A few decisions were made on the fly. Casting of actors was somehow put off until shortly before its test shows had to be taped.

Then came another vexing issue.

"We were just frantic for a title," recalled series mastermind Joan Ganz Cooney. No one much liked the word "sesame," which seemed to imply opening something up, but also seemed cutesy and doomed to be mispronounced by the audience as "see-same. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A New Book Maps the History of 'Sesame Street'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.