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John Korty (1936 - 2022)[1] was a film director and animator who contributed many animated inserts to Sesame Street during the 1970s and early 1980s, through his San Francisco studio Korty Films. His segments, which included the recurring series Thelma Thumb, were distinguished by his unique cut-out animation method, which Korty dubbed Lumage (short for Luminous Image).

For Lumage, Korty used a synthetic fabric known as Pellon, which was then snipped and sprayed. Dialogue for the segments was often improvised around the assigned educational theme. In addition to various improv actors, child performers were often used on the soundtracks, including the younger sister of future director David Fincher. In visualizing these tracks, individual elements of character parts were then assigned to animators to arrange and re-arrange, laid against pre-dressed backgrounds, and shot frame by frame, like stop-motion. The production crew included designer Harley Jessup, later to work at Pixar, and writer/cartoonist Brian Narelle, who occasionally wrote for other Sesame Street skits as well.

In 1983, Korty released a long-gestating feature-length showcase for the Lumage technique, Twice Upon a Time. Korty has also worked extensively in live-action, directing several independent features and the Emmy Award-winning TV movie The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman prior to Twice Upon a Time. Following the financial failure of that film, Korty moved into live-action directing exclusively, helming the first Star Wars franchise spin-off Caravan of Courage: The Ewok Adventure in 1984 (due in part to Korty's friendship with George Lucas), and assorted other TV movies and documentaries.

Partial Filmography

Picture Title or Topic / First Appearance Description
Thelma Thumb
Episode 1171
A recurring series of segments focusing on the adventures of Thema Thumb, a tiny hero and alter ego of a young girl.
Q for Quiet
Episode 0441
The letter Q keeps the rest of her word QUIET in silence.
P -- Pat the Pilot
Episode 0478
Pat talks about the letter P.
T -- Typewriter, Toe
Episode 0506
A purple/red figure plays around with a typewriter, until he stubs his toe with the letter T on it.
Joes and Sports
Episode 1871
A montage of boys, all of whom are named Joe, saying what their favorite sports are. The last one turns out to be a girl named Joanne.
Girl and City Sounds
Episode 1877
A girl skips home through the city, hearing all kinds of noises. When she gets home, she repeats all the noises she heard with a little dance.
Brothers and School
Episode 1877
A little boy asks his big brother questions about what happens at school.
Join a Daisy
Episode 1895
Yellow drops don't want to play with a red ball at first, but they make a good flower together.
Hippo coconut.jpg
Hippos and Coconut
Episode 1899
A hippo has difficulty getting the succulent fruit down from a tree, and enlists the help of another hippo.
What's Inside the Street?
Episode 1918
A bird (James Cranna) talks to a girl about what's inside the street. When she questions his credibility, he stammers, "A little worm told me!"
Bark in the Dark
Episode 1941
Two people think they hear a BARK in the DARK.
Pride Day Ceremony
Episode 2085
A nervous boy is waiting to describe his proudest accomplishment, and is initially unsure of himself next to other impressive students. He finally proudly acclaims his achievement, tying his shoes all by himself.
Angry Annie
Episode 2087
A small girl vents her rage at the world, frustrated by the problems of everyday life, until her younger brother offers her part of his orange.
Bird and Boxes
Episode 2088
A paranoid bird doesn't like to be surprised ... unless it's a surprise party.


  1. [1], Marin Independent Journal , March, 15 2022,
  • Jessen, Taylor. Final Cut-Out: The Making of Twice Upon a Time. Animation Blast #9, 2006.

External links