Continuing our series of deep dives into Sesame Street calendars (in no particular order, which is why we’ve jumped ahead five years since we covered the 1972 calendar), we come to 1977. It was the year Jimmy Carter took office, Elvis Presley “died”, and Emmet Otter premiered. Quite an epic year! But most importantly (sorry, Elvis), we got a fairy tale-themed calendar from Sesame Street.
The amazingly talented Michael J. Smollin, best known for “The Monster at the End of This Book”, created over a dozen original illustrations, each one pairing some Sesame characters with a well-known fairy tale. Unlike our last “C is for Calendar” entry (as well as some future ones), there aren’t any additional illustrations on the actual calendar pages, so they’re not included here. (Also because scanning giant calendars is hard, and I am a lazy, lazy man.)
So let’s time travel back to 1977 and see what the year was like through the lens of a Sesame Street calendar!
- It’s a bold choice to start the year off without any of the core Sesame characters. I’m assuming that’s Little Bird, and the pink guy looks a little too pink to be Roosevelt Franklin, so I guess he’s just an Anything Muppet?
- It’s also interesting that none of the fairy tales get titles. We all know Jack and the Beanstalk, but will all of the entries be as obvious? We’ll see!
- Jack’s pants look a little tight in the rear, don’t you think?
- Bert makes the first appearance of a core Sesame character in this book, and he’s relegated to being a steward. He probably doesn’t even have any lines in this play.
- I guess a case could be made for Prairie Dawn and Guy Smiley, but there’s no way to really know.
- Damn, but those are some ugly stepsisters.
- It’s a shame that these calendar pages aren’t loaded with more visual humor. Rapunzel isn’t howling in pain, Ernie doesn’t have a banana in his ear, Grover isn’t inexplicably riding a horse in the background. It’s just… Rapunzel.
- I appreciate that Ernie’s tights are almost kinda not-really reminiscent of his sweater pattern.
- Does this scene teach kids bad habits? Are they going to think they can just pull on some lady’s hair and skip the stairs?
- That’s two months in a row with Ernie and Betty Lou! If this happened 30 years later, there might be some shippers out there.
- Is Ernie pointing at the witch? Doesn’t that kinda skip the bulk of the story?
- Lederhosen should always be an option for Ernie’s wardrobe.
- Here’s one of my favorite fairy tales that you may not have heard of because it was never made into a Disney movie: The Brave Little Tailor.
- I don’t remember the tailor wearing high heeled shoes though.
- Another sight you don’t see very often: Grover brandishing a sword.
- Once again, no core characters in this one. It makes me wish there was a better way to ascertain whether or not a small pink Muppet is actually Prairie Dawn or Betty Lou in disguise.
- Interesting that a Snow White picture doesn’t include the Dwarfs. What a wasted opportunity to include some tiny versions of Grover, Cookie Monster, Ernie, Bert and the like.
- Remember, kids: Apples might kill you! Stick to the gingerbread houses.
- This is the two-page spread in the middle of the calendar, which is light on art, but heavy on tiny fonts.
- I guess the idea is to take the calendar down once a month, flip to the middle, and read the story before putting it back on the wall? Sounds like too much work.
- Apparently Michael Smollin’s favorite character is the little pink Anything Muppet. She’s on almost every page of this thing!
- Here’s the second appearance by a Muppet wielding a sharp weapon! The Huntsman’s got an axe.
- I’ve got nothing else. I guess it’s weird that the carpet is running up to the bed? Or is that a thing? Don’t answer that, I don’t actually care.
- Oh man, Twiddlebugs as the shoemaker’s elves! That’s some good casting.
- All those pointy shoes and no saddle shoes? Maybe Bert the Shoemaker outsources his own footwear.
- Bert’s bed looks mighty uncomfortable. Not only is it too small for him, but he seems to be slightly hovering over it, as if it’s impossible to feel comfortable on that tiny thing.
- Easily the strangest thing in this entire calendar: Bert is usually the one who’s forced to dress in drag, not Ernie.
- I guess this time, Ernie lost the toss.
- Are we sure the Princess got a poor night’s sleep because of the pea, and not because of the gust of wind coming through the window, the burning candle, or the blindingly tacky mattress prints?
- This version of The Emperor’s New Clothes has a different ending because Grover is used to being naked all the time anyway. No lessons learned!
- More Muppets with sharp objects: Now we’ve got spears!
- Bert looks especially dashing in a fez. He should wear them more often.
- Super weird: This page features the only appearances by Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch in this calendar (save for Cookie’s cameo on the cover)
- It’s also nice to see Mumford as the wizard. Nice casting.
- And the Best Casting award goes to Professor Hastings as the king. It would’ve been a glaring error to have a room full of sleeping Muppets without their resident narcoleptic.
- And so we end the year with another Anything Muppet who might or might not be Betty Lou, and no other Street residents. What a bunch of strange choices Michael Smollins made in his casting.
- This is a rare case of a calendar (not just for Sesame calendars, but every one ever made) that doesn’t create a Christmas theme for December. I guess there aren’t any Christmas-themed fairy tales? But we would’ve allowed something like The Gift of the Magi, or something equally classic.
- I like the amazed fish, but the angle makes it look like the bird will be flying directly into his mouth. That’d make for an interesting turn of events.
- Oohhh, so the whole calendar was just a series of stories Big Bird and Little Bird were reading to each other? Is this the Sesame Street equivalent of a deus ex machina?
- No more sharp objects, but we do have Big Bird sitting dangerously close to a raging fire.
- And that’s it! I hope everyone who had this on their wall was prepared with their 1978 calendar ready to go!
Get ready for more of these, as we still have a stack of classic Sesame Street calendars to share with you, and an endless supply of bizarre observations and snarky commentary!
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by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com