Roscoe Hunter Orman (b. June 11, 1944) has played Gordon on Sesame Street since 1974 (Season 6), becoming the third actor to play the role. He has also supplied the voice of Hard Head Henry Harris and other characters, including the hand in "Elmo's World: Hands" (for which he also provided his physical hand), as well as the PBS funding voice-overs. From Season 35 to Season 38, he appeared as the fictional superhero Trash Gordon.
Born in Manhattan, New York City, and living in the Bronx for much of his childhood, Orman made his acting debut at the age of 18. Subsequent work included stints with the New York Shakespeare Festival and the New Federal Theater. Orman's film debut came in the blaxploitation film Willie Dynamite, playing the title role, a heroic pimp. Orman shaved his head for the part, and his now bald head would become a trademark over the next several years.
Shortly after completion of the film, Orman was informed by Sesame Street director Stan Lathan of auditions for the role of Gordon. Matt Robinson, a friend of Orman's, also recommended he try out for the part. Orman was one of three finalists, alongside David Downing and Robert Guillaume. Orman recalled that during his audition scene with Oscar the Grouch, he kept looking at Caroll Spinney instead of the puppet. However, Orman had good chemistry with the preschool kids, improvising the concepts of up and down. In a 2011 interview, he credited his segment with John John for giving him his career.
In 1976, during a hiatus from Sesame Street, Orman played the villainous pimp Tyrone on the soap opera All My Children. When the guest spot became a recurring role, Orman was forced to choose, and abandoned the role. Later non-Sesame Street roles were more positive, including a police lieutenant in an episode of Kojak, Captain Wallenger in the 1986 film F/X, and another captain in the pilot episode of the Touchstone Television series Hard Time on Planet Earth.
Orman has also portrayed the controversial early black comedian Stepin Fetchit in a biographical one-man stage play, created by fellow "Gordon" actor Matt Robinson. His most recent attempts at moonlighting from Sesame Street have included guest spots on Cosby, Law & Order, and Sex and the City. Orman has also done extensive voice-over work, including narration for the History Channel and commercials for Chevrolet and Kraft Cheese.
In 1995, Orman released an album of children's music under the title "Roscoe Orman Sings Songs to Grow On".
The picture book Ricky and Mobo, written and illustrated by Orman, is about his childhood love of a toy horse. Orman is the "chief storyteller" for Audible Kids audio book downloads, he commented "I do the voices. I do Beauty AND the Beast."
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation interviewed Orman on July 20, 2004 for the Archive of American Television. The two-hour interview was posted on YouTube in 2008.
- GalaxyCon SESAME STREET Live Stream Q&A, January 24, 2021.
- Lance, Steven. Written Out of Television: A TV Lover's Guide to Cast Changes, 1945-1994. Maryland: Madison Books, 1996.
- Rich Heldenfels, "'Sesame Street' visits the mall", Beacon Journal, March 28, 2009.