Sesame Street
The Wicked Witch of the West loses her broomstick
Air date February 10, 1976
Season Season 7 (1975-1976)
Sponsors I, Z, 9
Margarethamilton-witch
Iambigbird847

Hamilton on set with Caroll Spinney.

In this episode of Sesame Street, The Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton, reprising her role from The Wizard of Oz) wreaks havoc on the street when she loses her flying broomstick.

Controversy

The stated curriculum goals of the episode were to demonstrate fear and "the value of planning by creating and implementing methods of retrieving the broom."[1]

The episode prompted an unusually large amount of mail responses from parents, almost entirely negative, within a short time frame. Typical responses included parents concerned that their children were afraid and now refused to watch the show, using such phrases as "screams and tears" and "the threat of the witch's power remains in children's eyes." A somewhat atypical missive came from a self-proclaimed Wiccan, concerned with the perpetuation of a negative fairy tale stereotype and recommended a segment "portraying witches as they really are, now."[2]

Due to the overwhelming reaction, additional test screenings were held from March 1 through the 5th, "to assess children's reactions to the Wicked Witch of the West." The tests showed that children were "exceptionally attentive during the Margaret Hamilton segments," and those who watched the episode in color were fascinated by her green face. The issue of fear was difficult to fully judge, due to confusing answers and the fact that the children were surrounded by their peers and adults, and not alone watching. However, due to the parents' reactions, the letter content and testing observations, Anna Herera of the CTW Research Department suggested "that the Margaret Hamilton show not be re-run."[3]

Many years later in November 2019, clips from the episode were screened at the Museum of the Moving Image as a part of the Jim Henson Legacy's "Sesame Street 'Lost and Found'" event, where former head writer Norman Stiles and current Vice President of Education and Research Rosemarie Truglio discussed its educational and entertainment merits.

Episode

StreetScenes
Picture Segment Description
0847 01a

0847 01b

0847 01c
SCENE 1 David walks out of Hooper's Store and observes how spooky it is that the windy weather rolled into Sesame Street the way it did. He notices an object falling from the sky, braces for its impact, and catches a broom which immediately ceases the wind. Not one to look a gift broom in the mouth, David begins sweeping up the sidewalk in front of the store.

Underscored by electric guitar, The Wicked Witch of the West emerges from around the corner and realizes she's not in Oz anymore; she must be somewhere over the rainbow. When she spots David with her broom, she demands to have it back. David warns her that she's got to be more careful considering how it fell into his posession. The Witch loses her patience and tries to wrest it away from him, but she's reminded that she can't lay a finger on it so long as someone is holding it without mystical repercussions. She promises to be back and disappears in a puff of smoke as David tells the viewer she won't get the broom until she shows him some respect.

Toon.Inkbird
Cartoon I-Ink (angry bird)
(First: Episode 0462)
100004
Film A group of Latino children pick members for their baseball team. A new kid, Ramon, joins them.
(First: Episode 0440)
Song.Capital.I
Cartoon "I in the Sky"
(First: Episode 0368)
BertBettyLouIceSkate
Muppets Full-body versions of Bert and Betty Lou ice skate together.
3161s
Cartoon I - ice cream.
(First: Episode 0033)
Song.frogstruggle
Song Joe Raposo sings "Frog Struggle Song."
(First: Episode 0492)
3726.SandI
Animation Sand I/i
(First: Episode 0619)
0926j
Film Cold things that begin with the letter I.
(First: Episode 0618)
0847 02a

0847 02b
SCENE 2 Inside Hooper's, David excitedly recounts the story of how he acquired the broom to Maria and some kids. Maria doesn't believe him until the Witch appears in a puff of smoke right in front of her. She's demanding her broom back again, but David still insists on being treated with respect. Maria urges him to just ignore her and serve up some water. The Witch complies with the request by making it rain inside the store (after she's removed herself from the space, of course). David suggests they all go outside to get out of the rain.
1261-LowercaseI
Cartoon A Gary Owens-voiced man attempts to discuss the letter I, but is jeered by an offscreen voice. The man uses him as an example of the word "impolite".
(First: Episode 0032)
Groverwaiteralphabetsoup
Muppets Waiter Grover: Grover brings Mr. Johnson a bowl of alphabet soup. Mr. Johnson complains that some of the letters are missing, and makes Grover run back and forth to the kitchen to bring the missing letters. When all the letters are there, Johnson complains that the soup is cold, and makes Grover take it back.
(First: Episode 0276)
LetterI.BeepBeep
Cartoon Letter I (Beep Beep)
(First: Episode 0427)
9people
Cast No matter how you arrange these nine people, they're still nine people.
(First: Episode 0413)
2040d
Film Pizza is made.
Music: Joe Raposo
(First: Episode 0416)
2257zc
Cartoon I for iron
(First: Episode 0314)
WhoYouLookinAtTiger
Song David sings "Who You Looking At, Tiger?"
(First: Episode 0371)
Typewriter-I
Cartoon The Typewriter: I for Ink
0847 03a

0847 03b
SCENE 3 David and Maria emerge from the wet store with the kids in disbelief from what's just happened. Maria tells him he should probably just give the Witch her broom back, but David continues to insist that she must treat him with some respect first. Big Bird joins them and gets a warning from David to return to his nest to avoid the witch, but Big Bird resolves to support his friends if they're being terrorized. Assuming he's going to have to fight off a witch, he'll need a stick or something, and grabs the broom from David.

Before he can protest, the Witch appears. Big Bird assumes she's a customer at first, but when he realizes who she is, he threatens her to not bother David "or else". The Witch attempts to lay her hand on the broom, but once again gets a shock because someone else is holding it. When David gets it back, the Witch threatens to turn David into a basketball and Big Bird into a feather duster similar to the one she conjurs to taunt him with. After she disappears, the feather duster is left behind smoldering on the ground, but Big Bird doesn't yield on standing by his friends.

Toon.bigshoes
Cartoon What if I had big feet?
(First: Episode 0514)
1091-08
Muppets Ernie & BertErnie is thirsty, and imagines that he's drinking nice cold water. Irritated, Bert tells him to go get a real glass of water. Ernie does, but then he annoys Bert by saying that now he's hungry. He then proceeds to eat an imaginary peanut butter and banana sandwich.
(First: Episode 0459)
Toon-Rowers
Cartoon Two guys row their oars in different directions, until they decide to cooperate and row together.
(First: Episode 0510)
GreenHandSpinTop
Film Jerry Nelson narrates a story about a green Muppet hand that learns to spin a top.
(First: Episode 0362)
Painter9
Film The Mad Painter #9
(First: Episode 0338)
400031
Cartoon Jazz #9
(First: Episode 0137)
Toon.3Cuckoos
Cartoon Three birds enter a cuckoo clock to do their job.
(First: Episode 0543)
Toon.Cerrado
Cartoon La palabra cerrado
(First: Episode 0481)
Cookie Counter
Muppets Cookie Monster presents to Ernie his new device “The Cookie Counter” which will notify him of the quantity of cookies inside the box. Cookie Monster points “The Cookie Counter” rod to the box of cookies, which rings five times representing the amount of cookies inside the box. Ernie is impressed by Cookie Monster’s device and talks about the benefits the device provides to the audience, simultaneously Cookie Monster eats Ernie’s box of cookies. Ernie tests the Cookie Counter by pointing the rod at the box of cookies, the box doesn’t ring. Cookie Monster asks Ernie to face the Cookie Counter rod to his stomach; it rings five times as proof of the location of the five cookies.
(First: Episode 0481)
3154w
Cartoon A monster sees a box that keeps opening and closing, saying "Abierto" and "Cerrado."
(First: Episode 0784)
0847 04a

0847 04b
SCENE 4 The Witch stops in front of Oscar's trash can to recount the events that have thus far transpired: she made it rain in the store and threatened to turn David and Big Bird into inanimate objects. Oscar the Grouch overhears her scheming and tells her she's the most beautiful person he has ever seen. The Witch barks back, and Oscar retreats into his can with a declaration of love. Suddenly, an idea dawns on her, and she transforms herself into a human in plainclothes.
0847 04c

0847 04d

0847 04e

0847 04f
SCENE 4, cont'd In disguise, the Witch approaches Hooper's Store where Big Bird is standing guard with a baseball bat and a hockey stick. He lets the eldery woman by and she takes a seat at the counter next to Maria. David tells the newcomer all about how there's a Witch terrorizing Sesame Street. When he produces the broom, the woman asks to hold it, but she can't take it from his hands; it has to be placed down first in order for her to pick it up. Sensing something is amiss, David takes Maria aside and tells her he suspects the woman is actually the Witch. Continuing to assert his desire to be treated nicely, David returns to the woman and tells her that if she asks very nicely to hold the broom, he would let her. The woman stammers, but manages to say please; once she's got her hands on it, she turns back into the witch. As she announces her plan to return to Oz and never see Sesame Street again, Maria congratulates David on getting rid of her.
Toon.Up.Down.Up.Down
Cartoon Various demonstrations of DOWN and UP
RFES-UpDown
Muppets Roosevelt Franklin Elementary School: Roosevelt Franklin has his students stand up and sit down to learn about the opposites.
(First: Episode 0518)
1186s
Cartoon Cherries fall through a moving hole onto a man who demonstrates up and down.
Artist: Bruce Cayard
(First: Episode 0798)
1186m
Muppets Muppet & Kid Moment — Herry asks John-John if he knows the difference between up and down.
(First: Episode 0565)
Updownbrothersister
Cartoon A boy leads his sister up and down a staircase.
Artist: Cliff Roberts
(First: Episode 0526)
1186z
Film A man bounces a ball up the steps, and then it falls down the steps.
Music: Joe Raposo
(First: Episode 0435)
KidFatherBuild
Animation A kid's father tells him what can be built out of the wheels and things he found.
(First: Episode 0268)
HIYL.Bread
Muppets Here is Your Life: A loaf of bread is profiled.
(First: Episode 0709)
KidFatherBuild
Animation A kid's father tells him what can be built out of the wheels and things he found. (Spanish version)
(First: Episode 0277)
Film-EagleRoads
Film Kids comment over footage of an eagle's view of different kinds of roads.
Music: Joe Raposo
(First: Episode 0377)
Toon.ZigZag
Cartoon zip, zoom, zoom, zig, zag, zany, zoo.
(First: Episode 0359)
0847 05
SCENE 5 Everyone gathers to watch the witch leave. Big Bird is sad to see her go because everything was so exciting while she was here, but the witch is glad to be leaving.
ZforZipper
Cartoon Z for zipper
(First: Episode 0025)
Lookatthepenguinstakinabath
Film Penguins take a bath.
Music: Joe Raposo
(First: Episode 0233)
Toon.Z.climbers
Cartoon Two alpine climbers hike up a letter Z and stake a claim on it.
(First: Episode 0281)
There's a Bird on Me
Song Joe Raposo sings "There's a Bird On Me."
(First: Episode 0416)
Song.Capital.I
Cartoon "I in the Sky" (repeat)
400031
Cartoon Jazz #9 (repeat)
0847 06a

0847 06b
SCENE 6 The Witch flies through the sky on her broom, but loses it again when she attempts to show off by navigating with no hands. Down on the street, David catches the broom and begins crying, "I can't go through this again."
0847 Sesame sign

0847 CTW sign
CLOSING SIGNS The witch announces the sponsors, ending on an echo-y cackle.

Sources

  1. "Wicked Witch to Drop Broom on Sesame Street." Chronicle-Telegraph. February 8, 1976
  2. Letter. February 10, 1976. Accessed at the CTW Archives.
  3. Memorandum. April 4, 1976. Accessed at the CTW Archives.

External links


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