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Mr Hooper
DEBUT 1969

Bert, Ernie, and Mr. Hooper


Big Bird's drawing of Mr. Hooper, which hangs on the wall behind Big Bird's nest. Big Bird's performer, Caroll Spinney, drew the picture.


Big Bird's names for Mr. Hooper

Some of Big Bird's names for Mr. Hooper


Harold Hooper as a child, as seen in Episode 0513

1418 Hooper father son

A young Harold Hooper (played by Daniel Rothman) with his father (played by Will Lee) in Episode 1418

1545 Hooper brothers

Mr. Hooper with his brother Arnold during one of several visits in Episode 1545

Hooper family 1404

Mrs. and Mr. Hooper with their boys enjoying a Passover Seder, as captured in the Hooper Family Album from Episode 1404

1417 Hooper apartment

Mr. Hooper relaxes in his apartment.

Mr Hooper 02

The Hooper Family Album


Mr. Hooper depicted in the 2019 song "I Remember"

Mr. Hooper was the elderly storekeeper on Sesame Street from 1969 until 1983.

One of the original human cast members, Mr. Hooper ran Hooper's Store, the corner candy store on Sesame Street, where he lived in a three-bedroom apartment[1] located at 33 Sesame Street.[2] CTW advisor Gerald S. Lesser, when discussing the Sesame characters and including the first season cast, originally described him as "slightly mean and abrasive but with a poorly hidden nice streak."[3] In the first season of the show, Mr. Hooper was often seen developing bizarre inventions with outlandish names, such as a hiccup curing machine in Episode 0017 and a machine that creates ten of anything in Episode 0054 (among others).

Mr. Hooper mellowed over the years and developed a particularly close relationship with Big Bird, who bought birdseed milkshakes from him. Their friendship was occasionally frustrated by Big Bird's frequent inability to correctly say the shopkeeper's name, often calling him Mr. Looper or some similar rhyming variation. Still, Mr. Hooper had a great affection for Big Bird, even trusting him to open the store in Episode 0198.

According to Oscar, the two were also quite fond of one another. Oscar reflected on their relationship in a Life magazine article:

β€œWe actually got along very well, because when he got groceries in he'd give me the boxes and stuff like that.[4]”

In 1976, Mr. Hooper began attending night school in order to earn his GED. He explained that, as a youth, he was unable to finish high school, having been put to work at a young age. The following season, he finally graduated and considered further educational pursuits.

The character's first name, Harold, was not revealed on the show until he received his high school diploma in Episode 1025. Later, a middle initial β€” H β€” was added to his name in Episode 1205 when he broke his arm (he mentions the initial again in Episode 1283). Subsequent episodes indicate the H stands for Herschel. Brother Arnold Hooper calls him it in Episode 1401 and affectionate diminutives of it later (Hesch in the same episode and elsewhere, Heschie in 1723 and 1806). In the script for 1611, his grand niece Melissa telephones and calls him Uncle Herschel; in the aired version, Mr. Hooper explains to his friends, that's what she calls him. This implies his close family uses his middle name.

Mr. Hooper is Jewish, sometimes speaking Yiddish (he speaks to a relative on the phone in Yiddish in Episode 0687, and in Episode 1074, he tells Big Bird "I grew up in a neighborhood where that was the only language a lot of people spoke.") In the 1978 special Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, it is established that Mr. Hooper celebrates Chanukah.

Concerning his upbringing, Mr. Hooper once sang a song, "When I Was as Little as You Are", revealing that his father owned a store and he had helped out as a child. Mr. Hooper also has a cousin named Humperdinck (played by Lee) mentioned in Episode 0110, and a sister Emily mentioned in episodes 0096, 0160, 0746 (where she calls from Chicago), and 0879. As shown in Episode 0513, he had an imaginary friend named Mr. Mish-Mosh, a personification of his clown doll.

When actor Will Lee died in 1982, it left the producers of Sesame Street with the question of how to deal with the loss of Mr. Hooper. Dulcy Singer, executive producer at the time, said that "if we left it unsaid, kids would notice."[5] One way out was to avoid the issue of death entirely. Producers toyed with the idea of telling viewers that the character had gone away. Big Bird's performer, Caroll Spinney, said that "we didn't know what to do. [We] thought perhaps he could just retire, move to Florida or something, but then the producers thought that the best thing to do would be to actually deal with death."[6] After much discussion and research, the producers decided to have the character of Mr. Hooper pass away as well, and use the episode to teach its young viewers about death as a natural part of life and that it is okay to grieve and feel sad when a loved one passes away.

Mr. Hooper's farewell episode, Episode 1839, aired on Thanksgiving Day, 1983. This landmark episode was a turning point for the show; it was selected by the Daytime Emmys as being one of the 10 most influential moments in daytime television. Sesame Workshop's Hooper Society bequest program is named after the character. According to a 2016 online game, Mr. Hooper was born in 1908 (the birth year of actor Will Lee).

For more information about the "Mr. Hooper's death" episode, see Episode 1839.

Posthumous mentions[]

  • Episode 2455 (1988) β€” Big Bird mentions that "Mr. Looper" taught him the Yiddish phrase Mazel tov.
  • Episode 2562 (1989) β€” One of the reasons Big Bird convinces David not to change the store sign because it reminds him of Mr. Hooper.
  • Episode 3786 (1998) β€” When Alan mentions seeing a birdseed milkshake recipe on the store fridge, Big Bird tells him it must be "Mr. Looper's original birdseed milkshake recipe."
  • Episode 3976 and Episode 3978 (2001) β€” Big Bird directly acknowledges his drawing of Mr. Hooper as an item he keeps safe before the hurricane ravages his nest.
  • The Street We Live On (2004) β€” Mr. Hooper is one of the people Elmo sees when Grover takes him back to before Elmo was born.
  • Cookie Monster Quest online game (2016) β€” The game text acknowledges a picture of Mr. Hooper on the wall of the store. When using the command "Look At" on the image, a text box reads "Mr. Hooper. 1908 to 1982. We Miss You Every Day."
  • Sesame Street at SeaWorld (2019) β€” In the theme park's version of Hooper's Store, a framed photo of Mr. Hooper hangs on the wall behind the counter. A sign underneath reads, "Our Founder."
  • "I Remember" (2019) β€” In a throwback number to the 1972 cartoon "I Can Remember," Mr. Hooper appears in new animated scenes, working in his shop and appearing as the storekeeper in the original cartoon.
  • The ABCs of COVID-19 (2020) β€” In a segment on helping children cope with losing loved ones, Big Bird recalls his own grief when Mr. Hooper died.

TV Special appearances[]

Book appearances[]

Other illustrated appearances

See also[]


  1. ↑ as revealed when he took the census in Episode 1417
  2. ↑ Episode 1155
  3. ↑ Lesser, Gerald. Children and Television: Lessons from Sesame Street. 1975. p. 125
  4. ↑ "The Reflections of Oscar the Grouch", Oscar the Grouch, Guest editor, November 5, 2009. Life Magazine.
  5. ↑ Death of a Character is a Sesame Street Topic, The Associated Press. August 31, 1983.
  6. ↑ Caroll Spinney Interview on NPR Morning Edition, May 2003.