‘Sesame Street’ Original Cast of Puppets & Characters

Sesame Street Original Cast

Getty WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 08: Sesame Street characters (L-R) Ernie, Bert, Big Bird, Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Cookie Monster attend the 42nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors at Kennedy Center Hall of States on December 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

Sesame Street is one of the recipients of the 2019 Kennedy Center Honors, airing on Sunday, December 15 at 8/7c on CBS. The beloved television show has been educating and entertaining children for 50 years, which means that the cast and characters have changed over time.

The show’s first episode in 1969 debuted the puppet characters Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Ernie and Bert, Kermit the Frog, and Cookie Monster. Beautiful Day Monster, Guy Smiley, Bip Bippadotta, and Granny Bird were introduced later in the first season. When Oscar the Grouch was first introduced, the puppet was orange; when he got a green makeover, they explained the color change by saying it happened after he went on vacation and was covered in slime and mold at Swamp Mushy Muddy.

Kermit, who is famous today as the most recognizable character of Disney’s The Muppets, was a character on Sesame Street until 2000. While Elmo is now one of the show’s best-known characters, he actually didn’t join the cast of puppets until season 11 in 1979.

Bert and Ernie were originated by Frank Oz and Jim Henson; currently, the puppets are performed by Eric Jacobson and Peter Linz. Oz was also the original voice of Henson’s creation Cookie Monster, but David Rudman took over as the character in 2002.

The Original Cast Included 4 Human Actors

In addition to the show’s iconic puppet characters, the original cast also included four human actors who performed alongside the puppets.

Matt Robinson played Gordon, Loretta Long, played Gordon’s wife Susan, Will Lee, played Mr. Hooper, and Bob McGrath, played Bob. Robinson passed away in 2002; after he stopped playing Gordon in 1993, Roscoe Orman took over the role.

According to the LA Times, McGrath was fired from the show in 2016. At the time, McGrath said “They let all of the original cast members go, with the exception of Alan Muraoka — who is probably 20 years younger than the rest of us — and Chris Knowings, who is also young.” Orman was also fired from the program, as well as Emilio Delgado, who joined the cast as Luis in 1971.

The Puppeteer for Big Bird & Oscar the Grouch, Carroll Spinney, Passed Away in December 2019

Carroll Spinney was part of Sesame Street‘s original puppeteer cast, playing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since the television show’s first episode. He retired from the show in 2018 and one year later at the age of 85, Spinney passed away on Sunday, December 8, 2019.

In a press release, Sesame Workshop said “His enormous talent and outsized heart were perfectly suited to playing the larger-than-life yellow bird who brought joy to generations of children and countless fans of all ages around the world, and his lovably cantankerous grouch gave us all permission to be cranky once in a while. Caroll Spinney gave something truly special to the world. With deepest admiration, Sesame Workshop is proud to carry his memory — and his beloved characters — into the future.”

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