I found out last week that I owed my younger daughter an apology.
Though she grew up watching Sesame Street in her earlier years, she had never made the connection between the puppets that she saw there (unfortunately she grew up during the era where far too much of the focus of the show had turned to far-too-cute-for-his-own-good Elmo) and Jim Henson’s Muppets which she actually knew mostly from the movies.
Well, as it turns out she’s not alone. Even some of my co-workers who are quite a bit older than her and probably knew the Muppets from the television version of The Muppets Show, had a disconnect between the characters they saw there and Sesame Street.
Sigh… some days you kids really do make me feel old.
Because you see, back back in ye olden days (let’s call them P.E. for Pre-Elmo), the real star of Sesame Street (well, maybe with the exception of Big Bird) was Kermit. Why? Because Kermit was, much as he is also portrayed on The Muppet Show and the movies, the ultimate straight man. No matter what lunacy might be happening around him, Kermit was the almost always unflappable one. He was the anchor that kept the Muppet world on an even keel.
Oh, and along with being the anchor, he was also Sesame Street’s roving reporter, as you’ll see below.
Anyway, this revelation made me realize that it was time to take a bit of a look at the Muppets on Sesame Street. So, let’s begin with Mr. Frog in his role as roving reporter and see what story he’s found:
Of course, just like in real life, sometimes Kermit’s reports didn’t go exactly as planned:
Kermit also interacted with the human world of Sesame Street, as in this video where he’s playing a classic S.S. game with Susan:
Of course, as you may have noticed in the clip with the Count above Kermit wasn’t always quite so even-tempered. Here he is with another of his Sesame Street Muppet co-stars:
Yes, kids, Cookie Monster was a Muppet too. And here he is singing one of the most popular songs to come from the classic Sesame Street days:
Back in the day, there was another Muppet who was constantly vying with Kermit for most popular, and here he is teaching a very important lesson:
Yep, Grover was a Muppet. And if his voice sounds familiar to you Star Wars fans out there, that’s because it was provided by Frank Oz, who also voiced a certain diminutive green Jedi master. Here he is again, teaching another important lesson:
Of course, teaching kids about concepts like Near and Far and Around doesn’t always pay the bills, so Grover also had another job:
Of course, those guys weren’t the only Muppets to be found on Sesame Street. Bert and Ernie (who were based on Oscar and Felix from Neil Simon’s classic The Odd Couple) were Muppets:
Oh, and yeah, these guys were Muppets, too:
As were these guys:
And so many more. Way too many for me to feature here. But I think you get the idea. And no, the Muppets didn’t even start there. They had quite a bit of history even before they became a very important part of one of the most important kids’ shows in history.
But that, my friends, is a story for another time.