Tonight, Sesame Street will be the first TV show to receive a prestigious Kennedy Center Honor. While the event took place live on December 8, it will be broadcast tonight on CBS at 8pm ET/PT. Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett accepted the honor on behalf of the show.
Caroll Spinney, who originated the characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, passed away on Sunday morning before the television show became the first to receive the accolade. In a statement obtained by Vulture, Sonia Manzano, who played Maria on Sesame Street for 44 years until her retirement, shared, “I am just stunned that this happened and on this particular day… I think that a sweeter man was never born.”
Puppeteer David Rudman added, “We were all inspired by him… I grew up watching the show and I grew up inspired by Caroll and I was able to work with him and learn from him as a mentor.”
Sally Field and Earth, Wind, & Fire Were Also Honored
Each year, the Kennedy Center Honors award men and women in the arts for their lifetime contributions to American culture. The other honorees this year include Linda Ronstadt, Sally Field, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Michael Tilson Thomas.
Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein recently shared in a statement, “The Kennedy Center Honors celebrates icons who, through their artistry, have left an indelible stamp on our collective cultural consciousness. Earth, Wind & Fire’s hooks and grooves are the foundation of a seminal style that continues to shape our musical landscape; Sally Field has brought us unforgettable characters, both joyous and poignant, for more than five decades; Linda Ronstadt is the defining voice of a generation, spanning genres, languages and continents; Sesame Street continues to revolutionize how children and adults learn about our world; and Michael Tilson Thomas goes far beyond keeping score – he has shaped American music and musical institutions for the 21st century.”
Sesame Street debuted in 1969, and is still considered a powerful “force” in children’s educational television today. The series moved to HBO in 2016, where it has been ever since. As of last year, the show had taken home 189 Emmy Awards and 11 Grammys, which is more than any other children’s show.
Sesame Street is home to Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, and Elmo. The show was created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett. Today, “Sesame Street” is produced by Sesame Workshop, known as the Children’s Television Workshop.
EW writes, “From its inception, Sesame Street has been praised by parents and critics alike for its progressive and inclusive content, and some of its most poignant episodes touched on topical cultural subjects.”
There Is a ‘Sesame Street’ Musical On the Horizon
Recently, news surfaced that there is a “Sesame Street” musical on the horizon, which will come from the mind of Portlandia director and co-creator Jonathan Krisel. Producers include Shawn Levy and Michael Aguilar.
According to Variety, the live-action movie is set for a January 2022 release.
Be sure to tune into the Kennedy Center Honors tonight on CBS at 8pm ET/PT.