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Season 1 (1969-1970)

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Sesame Street
Season premiere November 10, 1969 (001)
Season finale May 8, 1970 (130)
No. of episodes 130
Sesame Street Show Open Season 100:54

Sesame Street Show Open Season 1

Season 1 opening.

SSEp1Animation

Season 1 title card.

SS1969Cast

The season 1 cast.

SS1969SScastB&W

The original cast of Sesame Street.

SesameStreet.Season1Promo

Ernie, Bert, Betty Lou, Roosevelt Franklin, Gordon and Susan.

Broken Ukulele

Ernie and Beautiful Day Monster.

0083c

Big Bird and Bob.

Jejalphabet

James Earl Jones on Sesame Street.

0001c

Oscar the Grouch

Baker

The baker in the Number Song Series.

Kermit-earlyGrover-in

Kermit the Frog and early Grover.

Ernie8Salesman

Ernie and the Salesman.

No6

Six spies in Jazz Numbers.

Kermitlecturerectangle

Kermit the Frog and Cookie Monster.

5peopleinmyfamily

The Anything Muppets of Sesame Street.

Hastig-001

Professor Hastings

Ethsesstreet

Ethel Kennedy on Sesame Street.

After five test shows and years of preparation, Sesame Street premiered on NET (National Educational Television, a precursor of PBS) on November 10, 1969.

Characters

During this first season, Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird were the only Muppets to appear regularly in Street scenes, while most of the other Muppets debuted in separate segments. Many of the Muppet characters had designs and/or character traits that would be changed or dropped later on. Big Bird had a much more naïve voice and a smaller head with fewer feathers, and was written as a sort of dopey adult character. Oscar, who would still retain much of his grouchy demeanor almost 40 years later, had orange fur. Monsters, who would become core characters by the second season, had fierce teeth, often destroyed anything in their path, and didn't have consistent names.

Bob, Mr. Hooper, Gordon, and Susan were the original human cast members. With the exception of Mr. Hooper, who died in 1982, the other original characters are still with the series as of 2008, making them some of the longest continually-running non-soap opera characters in American entertainment. Like the Muppets, the human characters would change over time. Bob, originally a shop teacher, would later teach music, and by the end of the first season Susan would become a nurse. The season also featured live-action segments starring Buddy and Jim, a human comedy duo that failed at such tasks as hanging a picture and making a sandwich. Jennie also made occasional appearances.

Format

Sesame Street's format as established in 1969 would remain virtually unchanged for decades; live-action street scenes would alternate with Muppet comedy skits, musical numbers and short film segments, all known collectively as "inserts". Many of the Muppet scenes and films were created so that they could be replayed over and over (at least one segment would be repeated within any given episode); some of the segments made in 1969 would continue to be rebroadcast into the 1990s. (Many of these pieces are available for viewing at sesamestreet.org, and continue to be shown in various international co-productions.)

The original episodes had a much more literal, almost lecture-like tone to the Street scenes, closer in style to its original contemporaries like Mister Rogers' Neighborhood or Captain Kangaroo. With time, the Street-scenes became more natural with a definite plot thrust, with less breaking of the fourth wall. For example, in the first episode, Ernie once addresses the audience as those in "TV land".

While the Muppets would eventually become the biggest stars of the show, they did not appear as frequently as the cast. Cartoon segments aired more frequently than Muppet segments, and as such, some of the original illustrated promotional material featured the cast and Muppets interacting with animated characters, who also appeared in advertisements of the show. Animated segments and live-action inserts featured in the season included Alice Braithwaite Goodyshoes, Jazz Numbers, Speech Balloons, Alphabet Bates and Number Song Series, most of which continued to air many years later.

The season introduced many original songs that have gone on to become beloved Sesame Street classics, including "Rubber Duckie", "I Love Trash", "Bein' Green", "The People in Your Neighborhood" and "One of These Things". While all of those songs would have multiple performances on the show over the years, the last two would have many different versions during this season.

During the first season, many segments had some sort of connection with each other. It would be common for characters in the street scenes to introduce the next segments, various Muppet inserts would directly lead into the next film or cartoon, celebrities would appear in sort tag sequences commenting on the previous segments, and some Muppet inserts would have them commenting on the previous segments. Some episodes during this season would end with live animals appearing on the street set.

Curriculum

In 1968, the Children's Television Workshop established the original educational concepts that would prepare children for school. Over time these would be expanded into larger fields (such as women's career awareness, medical issues, and science and space). The original topics that were focused on during the first season included:

  • recognition of the 26 letters of the alphabet (often in the form of short cartoons like the Speech Balloon series)
  • numbers from one to ten (both forwards and backwards)
  • shapes: circles, rectangles, triangles, and squares
  • putting items in the right order, reasoning, and problem-solving
  • classification (illustrated by the song "One of These Things")
  • relational concepts (including "Near and Far", "Big and Little", and "First and Last")
  • perceptual and auditory discrimination
  • self: parts of the body, coordinated movement, emotions, differing perspectives, and self-esteem (as illustrated by Kermit the Frog's "Bein' Green song)
  • roles: members of the family, and jobs
  • cooperation and fair play
  • the natural environment (often demonstrated in animal films) and the man-made environment [1]

Episodes

Episodes 0001 - 0130 (130 episodes)

Cast

Muppet Characters:

Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, proto-Cookie Monster, proto-Grover, Kermit the Frog, Lefty the Salesman, Mahna Mahna, Snerfs, Beautiful Day Monster, Anything Muppets, proto-Betty Lou, Oscar the Grouch, Professor Hastings, Roosevelt Franklin, Roosevelt Franklin's Mother, Sonny Friendly, Hippie, Baby Monster, Scudge, Snerk, Splurge, Thudge, Flute-Snatcher, Fred, Big V, Snork, Tony

Other Characters:

Bob, Gordon, Susan, Mr. Hooper, Jennie, Buddy and Jim

Muppets of Sesame Street

Caroll Spinney, Frank Oz, Jim Henson, with Danny Seagren, Caroly Wilcox

Actors

Matt Robinson, Loretta Long, Will Lee, Bob McGrath, Jada Rowland, Brandon Maggart, James Catusi

Guest Stars

Batman and Robin, Carol Burnett, Michael Cooney, Ruby Dee, Mahalia Jackson, James Earl Jones, Ethel Kennedy, B.B. King, Burt Lancaster, Don McLean, Listen My Brother, Odetta, Pat Paulsen, Lou Rawls, Jackie Robinson, Rowlf the Dog, Pete Seeger, Superman

Crew

Sources

  1. Truglio and Fisch. G is for Growing. p. 31
  2. Spinney, Caroll The Wisdom of Big Bird, p. 105


Previous season: Next season:
(first) Season 2 (1970-1971)

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