I really liked the Sesame Street 50th anniversary special that aired a few months back. Perhaps you’ll agree with me that one of the major highlights was seeing the return of beloved cast members who haven’t been on the show in a while. It was fun to see Leela, it was a thrill to see Susan and Bob, and I can’t be the only one who exclaimed “Oh, it’s Linda!”
It got me thinking: Some of these actors played these characters for a REALLY long time. That’s fascinating. And then that got me thinking: It’s also fascinating that because Sesame Street has been on the air so long, there are many, many other human characters who have come and gone. This is a television program where there are actors who were in the cast for 40-plus years, and other actors who were in the cast for just one or two years. I, as a strange person, find that very interesting.
So I did something fairly ridiculous. I looked at Muppet Wiki for every regular human cast member I could find, tallied up which seasons they were in, and made this chart-type thing in Google Sheets — in the style of those Wikipedia charts that show you how long each member of Lynyrd Skynyrd was in the band and so on. When I was finished, I proudly showed it to some Muppet fan friends of mine, and one of them promptly told me that the wiki already has a chart like that, on a page I failed to find when I was searching for wiki info on the Sesame Street cast. Turns out it was on a page called “Sesame Street Cast.”
Oh well. I regret nothing. Putting this together taught me a bunch of stuff I didn’t know about the human characters and actors, including a few characters I’d never heard of.
Check it out. You can also click here for a PDF of the whole thing.
So there’s that. A few thoughts and observations:
Man, that core group of humans from the early days — I’ll include Gordon, Susan, Bob, Maria, Luis, and Linda in that — was on the show for SUCH a long time. I guess a show that stays on the air forever provides pretty good job security.
Mr. Hooper was on for a long time too! It’s remarkable that Alan has surpassed both Mr. Hooper and David in terms of total seasons, although, considering Mr. Hooper and David were on at a time when the show was doing 130 episodes a year, it’s likely that their episode counts are still higher.
Considering the fact that she was around for 28 seasons, Gina isn’t talked about enough in retrospectives and conversations about the show. I’m sure this is because she wasn’t there for the most golden of the golden years in the ’70s, but still. Don’t forget Gina, folks! For that matter, don’t forget Olivia!
It kind of feels like Buffy was on the show for just a short time and then she left, but her appearances span six seasons. For any other TV show, an actor playing a character for six seasons would be a full-series run.
Uncle Wally’s first appearances overlap with Mr. Hooper’s last season. I’ve often wondered if Uncle Wally was intended to fill Mr. Hooper’s spot as the “mature” cast member. Then if you fast-forward to the 2000s, many of the longtime cast members were reaching “mature” status.
Did you know there was a character named Miss Trump who was seen occasionally over the course of four seasons? She sounds like a nice lady, so presumably there’s no relation.
Until I started researching this, I wasn’t familiar with Duane, who was on the show occasionally for three seasons. It turns out he was played by Donald Faison, best known as Turk on Scrubs. He’s also the brother of Olamide Faison, best known as the third actor to play Miles on Sesame Street!
I recently informed a casual Sesame fan that Savion Glover was on the show, and they were quite surprised. But there he was, for six seasons!
It’s interesting that there are a handful of characters who share a name with their performers: Bob, Linda, Buffy, Savion, Ruthie, Alan, Chris. I’d be curious to know what the reasoning was when this happened. Miles and Gabi were both initially played by babies named Miles and Gabi, but their roles were later taken over by other actors. Buffy Saint Marie seemed to be playing a TV version of herself. Was Savion actually a TV version of the tap-dancing sensation Savion Glover, just hanging out with Elmo and the gang?
I believe the ’90s was when they started crediting children as cast members. I vaguely remembered Lexine as being a kid on the street around that time, but I had no idea she was on for five seasons. She must have been too old for Sesame Street by the time she left. Are her final appearances just her ignoring the Muppets while listening to 98 Degrees on her Discman?
A few new adult characters were introduced for the big 25th season, but by season 32 they were all gone. Congratulations to Ruth Buzzi’s Ruthie for sticking it out that long, outlasting Celina, Angela, and Jamal! (Side note: I believe Ruthie’s final appearance is in the movie Elmo in Grouchland, where she briefly shows up in a chaotic slapstick scene carrying a tray of glass vases and saying, “Ohhh, this is so delicate…!” Which is a fantastic way to go out.)
Miles first appeared as a baby a full three seasons before newborn Gabi. But remember when they did an episode in the ’00s where they graduated high school at the same time? What a rare lapse of realistic continuity (for a show starring a six-year-old giant bird who never ages)!
Wow, Nina’s been on the show for five seasons?! Time flies when you’re older than a preschooler.
Here’s something fun to try: Ask your friends if they like Sesame Street, then when they say yes, ask them, “Who’s your favorite character — Jesse, Lisa, Micki, or Alex?”
And those are my thoughts and observations! What are your thoughts and observations about the Sesame Street humans and their tenures on the show? Let me know!
Click here to fill the “mature” cast member spot on the Tough Pigs forum!
by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com