Itzhak Perlman (b. 1945) is an Israeli virtuoso violinist and teacher. He is one of the most famous violinists of the late 20th century.
Perlman appeared in several spots on Sesame Street, most notably during season 12.
In the season premiere, Perlman plays a Beethoven duet with Telly Monster, who accompanies him on the tuba. He also appeared in a scene with Oscar the Grouch that season, as well as a scene with Big Bird and a young boy named Rafael. (EKA: Episode 1762)
In one sketch, Perlman appeared in a poignant segment demonstrating that people with disabilities in one area can have exceptional abilities in others. A little girl runs up steps to a platform and sits down with her violin. Perlman, who was born with polio, climbs up using his crutches. "Some things that are really easy for you," he says while getting in the chair next to her, "are really hard for me." Perlman then plays his violin very quickly and masterfully, to which she responds, "Yes, but some things that are easy for you are hard for me," as she plays at a more beginner level. (EKA: Episode 1563) This segment was included in VH1's special, The Greatest TV Moments: Sesame Street Music A-Z.
In a later season, Perlman returned for a sketch playing "Vesti la giubba" from Pagliacci with Placido Flamingo and a Honker. (EKA: Episode 2630) He also appeared in the celebrity version of "Put Down the Duckie."
In 1986, Perlman was one of the human leads of in the first season of Shalom Sesame, a co-production between Sesame Street and the Israeli Sesame show, Rechov Sumsum. Perlman appears in each episode of the first season, typically at the beginning to set up the particular show's theme and often later gives a violin performance. Perlman later made guest spots in the episodes "Aleph-Bet Telethon" and "Kids Sing Israel."
- In the video Rowlf's Rhapsodies with the Muppets, Rowlf tells Gonzo, "You are standing in the very piano sold to me by Itzhak Perlman when he remembered he was really a violinist!"
- In the Sesame Street video Sing Along, Sully warms up his piano-playing fingers to ready himself for a song. The panache with which he plays prompts Big Bird to note that "he's a regular Itzhak Perlman."
- In a Season 23 sketch on Sesame Street, Elmo and Prairie Dawn attempt to play a minuet together, with Elmo on violin and Prairie on piano. Elmo causes several complications, forcing Prairie to constantly give him orders. He comments that Itzhak Perlman doesn't get the same treatment.