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Meet the Sea Dragons of OZ and the Yeti Crab

Meet the Sea Dragons of OZ and the Yeti Crab
OZ is shorthand for Australia, and not related to a Wizard

MAN-ATEE AND WOMAN-TARAY: NEW SUPER HEROES SURFACE

MAN-ATEE AND WOMAN-TARAY: NEW SUPER HEROES SURFACE
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Bad Biker Kitties Are On The Prowl

Bad Biker Kitties Are On The Prowl
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Formula Juan Racer: Numero Uno!

Formula Juan Racer: Numero Uno!
El Coche Es Muy Loco!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Big Bird And The Cyborg Of Sesame Street In The Seventies

I had never heard of Sesame Street's Sam the Robot until I read the book "Sesame Street Unpaved" by David Borgenicht a few years ago.

SAM (Super Automated Machine) was performed by Jerry Nelson (the Count) and only appeared briefly in the early days of Sesame Street.

Sam, you just messed with the wrong bird.

I guess Sam wore out his welcome quickly.

I just discovered this "Sam Shows Big Bird Five" story in November 2011, thumbing through a copy of "The Sesame Street 1,2,3 Storybook" at an antique store on a vacation visiting family.

For Christmas, I was given the book as a present.

The Sesame Street 1,2,3 Storybook has stories written by Emily Perl Kingsley, Jeffrey Moss, Norman Stiles and Daniel Wilcox. Joseph Mathieu, Kelly Oechsli, Mel Crawford and Bob Taylor provided the illustrations.

The cover of The Sesame Street 1,2,3 Storybook was illustrated by Michael Frith, who would later design the world of Fraggle Rock.

The inside cover art was created by Mel Crawford.

I am a big fan of the dynamic poses and unique style found in Mel Crawford's drawings.

Sherlock Hemlock is another early Sesame Street character that disappeared (at least in the United States).

Like Sam, Sherlock Hemlock was performed by Jerry Nelson.

This Sesame Street spoof of Sherlock Holmes used to be featured frequently on the show.

With the new Sherlock Holmes movies these days, maybe Hemlock will return.

This is a fun little story. Who are the twins in the picture? "Come and play with us, Danny!"

As Oscar the Grouch might say, "I've got a mystery for you, Hemlock. What happened to your career?"

Oscar is one of my favorites.

Originally, Oscar wasn't green. In the first episode of Sesame Street, Oscar was orange!

It's kind of hard to believe that Oscar and Big Bird were performed by the same person, Carroll Spinney.

Oscar's accent was inspired by a New York City cab driver that had asked Carroll Spinney, "Where to, Mac?"

Oscar was originally planned to live in the sewer, but it was thought to be too creepy. The original idea for the Muppet characters on the show is that they would live in a world underground. This would later be the premise for Fraggle Rock.

"...turn that page and then I won't have to look at you any more!! Good-by!!" Too funny!

Sesame Street used to have some monsters that were kind of scary.

Cookie Monster (originally performed by Frank Oz) was based on a toothy Muppet called The Beautiful Day Monster, which had been created for an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

I think it's safe to say that these monsters would never show up on Sesame Street today.

Some of these guys would be at home in the world of "Where the Wild Things Are."

The monster with the tail is especially frightening.

The Sesame Street books show us that Herry Monster wore pants. Who knew?

Sesame Street, please don't ever turn Cookie Monster into the Broccoli Monster.

The illustrations by Joseph Mathieu for this story are incredible.

I thought Cookie Monster did a great job with his campaign to become a host on Saturday Night Live in 2010.

I'm pretty sure that "Norwegian wood!" is a reference to the Beatles song ("This Bird Has Flown").

I could not figure out who the artist was for this Grover story.

This drawing of the balloon salesman is hysterical to me.

Frank Oz performed many famous Muppets, including Grover, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Bert and Cookie Monster. He was also Yoda in the Star Wars films, and is an accomplished film director.

I believe this balloon salesman is based on the Anything Muppet called "Fat Blue."

Don't worry, Grover! Remember, as Super Grover, you can fly!

These days, Super Grover wears a secure, soft helmet. He used to wear a loose metallic helmet, which was funny, but I'm guessing it got complaints.

On my 2011 Christmas vacation, I found some more Sesame Street books at another antique store, not far from where I found "The Sesame Street 1,2,3 Storybook."

The cover of this book and the inside cover for this series was created by Joseph Mathieu. The other illustrators for The Sesame Street Library include Mel Crawford, A. Delaney, Michael Frith, David Gantz, Jon McIntosh, Marc Nadel, Kelly Oechsli, and Michael J. Smollin.

These books share some of the same content found in The Sesame Street 1,2,3 Storybook.

The writers for this series should be familiar to Muppet fans. They include Michael Frith, Jerry Juhl, Emily Perl Kingsley, Sharon Lerner, Nina B. Link, Albert G. Miller, Jeffrey Moss, Norman Stiles, Jon Stone and Daniel Wilcox.

The Sesame Street Library has some great recipes, courtesy of Cookie Monster.

I think Cookie Monster should have his own show on Food Network.

Ernie can take off his nose and throw it. Don't try this at home, kids!

I believe this was drawn by Mel Crawford.

It's time for more baking tips from Cookie Monster!

Cookie Monster teases more recipes for Volume 2. I don't have Volume 2. What did he make?!

Carroll Spinney did not just perform Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, he was a talented artist, too!

Oscar the Grouch was recycling before anyone else was.

Pinwheel, pinwheel spinning around. Look at my pinwheel and see what I found... Wait a minute!! Wrong show!

Since Snuffleupagus is sort of like a Woolly Mammoth, he was the logical choice to show us how to make snowflakes.

Is the Amazing Mumford the Count's brother from another mother?

The Amazing Mumford was also performed by Jerry Nelson.

I can't find a notation anywhere, but I think "The Monster's Picnic" was drawn by Michael Frith.

You're invited to a picnic, a monster picnic, and humans are allowed today!*

*visitors to Six Flags Over Georgia may find this little story to be reminiscent of a section of The Monster Plantation ride (now called The Monster Mansion)---especially Herry Monster swinging from a tree branch. Check out The Monster Plantation/The Monster Mansion Part 2 for a glimpse of this ride.

Cookie Monster is back to show us how to make more cookies.

This recipe was brought to you by your local dentist.

Ernie (originally performed by Jim Henson) and Bert (originally performed by Frank Oz) are back with more fun!

I bet Mel Crawford drew this, too!

Here we get a rare glimpse of Big Bird's Granny.

Butter is yellow...that reminds me, I need a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter.*

*Really Old Sesame Street Reference.

And now, the comedy duo of Oscar and Maria (played by Sonia Manzano).

I always thought Oscar and Maria had good chemistry together.

Go look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls!*

*These books were a product of the Children's Television Workshop and a reference book company called Funk & Wagnalls, Inc. There was a variety show called "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" on television in the late Sixties and early Seventies, and "Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls" became a catchphrase used in skits on the series (because it sounded naughty).

In case you wondered, these Sesame Street Library series books cost me just $1 each.

Sesame Street used to have some shady characters, including Lefty the Salesman (performed by Frank Oz).

More great Mel Crawford drawings, I believe.

The Count visits Mr. Hooper at his store.

The Count make a mess and is proud of it.

Since the Count is a "glass half full" kind of guy, he suggests what Mr. Hooper can do with an empty egg carton. You can make an adorably creepy camel.

Look! Now you know how to make a Twiddlebugs Twiddlywinks game out of an egg carton. You're Welcome!

Roosevelt Franklin was a popular character created by Matt Robinson (who also played Gordon for a few years).

Roosevelt Franklin is gone from Sesame Street these days, but he's not forgotten.

The Count used to be a bit darker.

I'd like to pitch an idea to Sea World, Busch Gardens, Sesame Place and Universal Studios Japan (theme parks that feature the Sesame Street characters). I want to see a Count's Castle dark ride (with Muppet ghosts).

Oscar is back for some book-making fun with Betty Lou.

Historically, Sesame Street had difficulty launching a break-out female character.

I would suggest that Red Fraggle from Fraggle Rock (or a character very much like her) would be a big hit for Sesame Street.

Oscar cracks me up again. What a bitter-sweet ending!

For Christmas, I was also given the book "Street Gang" by Michael Davis, which is "The Complete History of Sesame Street." This is a fantastic book, full of behind-the-scenes drama, egos, gossip and trivia.

If you are an old-school Sesame Street fan, I also recommend you find the book, "Sesame Street: A Celebration" by Louise A. Gikow. I got a copy real cheap at a store called Half Price Books, and it included a DVD of the first episode of Sesame Street (a real trip!).

For more Seventies Sesame Street fun, check out My Sesame Street Adventure With Big Bird, Mr. Hooper and Snuffleupagus.

7 comments:

  1. Thanks Dan for sharing this lesser known history on SS. I have a vague memory of Sherlock Hemlock but none of SAM. From their stories in your book, I think I would I liked them both quite a bit. (It doesn't hurt that I'm already a fan of sci-fi robots and Sherlock Holmes stories.)

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  2. Great Sesame Street itmes, Dan! Are there dates in any of these books? Before seeing the pic of Roosevelt Franklin, I was going to say that the twins in that pic on the wall looked a little bit like him. I had a puppet of Roosevelt Franklin when I was in first grade! Actually, I still have that puppet AND the box he came in! (Another item I need to rescue from my mom's garage....I hope his plastic head and hands haven't melted!) I wonder when Sesame Street got rid of him, Sherlock and Sam?

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  3. Thanks, A Snow White Sanctum! It's interesting that, with the Yip-Yips (remember those Martians? I loved those!) and SAM, Sesame Street sort of went Sci-Fi in the Seventies.

    TokyoMagic!: Wow, you have a Roosevelt Franklin puppet?!? That is too cool! I really hope his head did not melt in storage.

    The copyright for the Sesame Street 1,2,3 Storybook is 1973. The Sesame Street Library lists years from 1971 to 1978.

    I'm not sure when Sam, Sherlock and Roosevelt Franklin were phased out, but Sherlock lasted the longest of the three.

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  4. Yeah, now I'm worried. I better go rescue him and his friends from the garage. I also had an Ernie puppet and a Big Bird and my brother had Bert, Oscar, Grover and The Cookie Monster. I know they are all in a box together and now I'm starting to have flashes of Toy Story 3!

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  5. TokyoMagic!, there is a good picture of the Roosevelt Franklin puppet in its box in the "Sesame Street: A Celebration-40 Years Of Life On The Street" book by Louise A. Gikow. It's pretty groovy! The book also has a picture of the Bert and Ernie puppets (like Roosevelt Franklin, they have vinyl features) and Grover (the first puppets were released by Child Guidance in 1973).

    Also shown is a set of PVC finger puppets (I had a couple of these) and Sherlock Hemlock and Roosevelt Franklin are among the characters that were available (released from 1971 to 1973).

    Yes, go rescue those puppets. I bet you could make some serious cash!

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  6. I could NEVER sell them! Well maybe if I was forced to, but hopefully that won't ever happen! I can get rid of stuff that I've collected as a teenager or as an adult, but the stuff I've had since childhood is a part of me!

    Okay, so I went and rescued the box today, but I have to go back and dig a little deeper for the puppets. The box was being stored just loose/unprotected. It was very dirty and unfortunately a little brittle. But I have it! I don't have any of the boxes for any of the other puppets that I mentioned. From what I remember, Cookie Monster had cookies printed on the back of his box and my brother cut those out so Cookie Monster could "eat" them (the puppet had a slit in it's mouth to make the cookies disappear). The Big Bird box had a television set on the back and I cut out the "screen" of the TV so I could do puppet shows. I don't know why the Roosevelt Franklin box survived.

    In addition to the large Ernie puppet, I also had/have the small finger puppet version of him! I rescued that about a year ago and now keep it in a display cabinet along with other items from childhood.....Pez dispensers, a Mickey Mouse radio, and a Donald Duck alarm clock!

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  7. Sounds like you hit the jackpot, TokyoMagic! I imagine parting with those items could be difficult. The Roosevelt Franklin puppet with a box is quite a treasure.

    I had a Cookie Monster puppet, but it was not made to eat cookies in a convincing way (kind of disappointing, and messy if you used real cookies).

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