Sally Cruikshank began her career as an independent animator while a college student in the 1970s. In 1975, while working in San Francisco for Snazelle Films, she wrote, designed, directed, and animated (with only minimal assistance) Quasi at the Quackadero, a surreal short featuring art deco-ish, vibrantly colored, indistinct characters, reminiscent equally of birds and frogs. The short, which was later chosen for inclusion in the 1994 book The 50 Greatest Cartoons, led to other projects, including animating a nightmare television sequence for Twilight Zone: The Movie (partially directed by John Landis). Her other works include the animated intro to the film Mannequin and a sequence for a 2017 SpongeBob SquarePants Halloween special.
Between 1989 and 2000, she lent her "neo-thirties" style to a number of Sesame Street animated inserts, mostly dealing with directional concepts such as "in and out" or "next to" (the latter presented as a satirical look at a bizarre social gathering). Many of these use jazz lyrics and 30s style swing. She also created an animated frog to join Kermit for Jimmy Buffett's performance of "Caribbean Amphibian" in Elmopalooza. Cruikshank has cited 1995's "From Your Head" as her personal favorite piece to work on.
In a 1997 interview, Cruikshank discussed her relationship with Children's Television Workshop:
“[They] sent three songs and that is how it started... [I] didn't use the curriculum, I've had a really easy time [essentially] just adapting songs. Arlene Sherman [CTW producer] has been tuned into my musical interest, so she has chosen appropriate music. I've really liked working with them because they give you complete freedom and they're very supportive and non-interfering. I wish there were more work like that available.”
Sesame Street Filmography
|Picture||Title / First Appearance||Description|
|Beginning, Middle, End
|A trio of picture books explain the concept and structure of stories.|
|Above it All
|A song about flying and seeing the world from a bird's eye view.|
|In and Out Crowd
|A hip group sing about hanging out with the "in" and "out" crowds; not as a study in social cliques, but to demonstrate the prepositions.|
|Part of the Whole
|A song about individual parts that make things whole.|
|A series where abstract masks are counted to an African beat.|
|Island of Emotion
|A reggae song about an island where happiness, sadness, love, and surprise manifest themselves in various ways.|
|Ooh What a Fabulous Party
|A party attended by gathering dignitaries and celebrities from many lands and even planets, including such figures as "the bowling pin heiress," features a seemingly endless guest list of people who are all seated "next to" each other.|
|A walking lizard's curiosity takes him variously underground, underneath, behind, and underwater.|
|"Your Feet's Too Big"
|A Fats Waller song, previously performed on The Muppet Show, here sung by a shoe salesman voiced by Kevin Clash.|
|From Your Head
|A frog explains about using the imagination; vocals by jazz singer Betty Carter.|
|A Zerkel Named Dan
|A Zerkel named Dan shows "an"-words.|
|A Zerkel Named Jake
|A Zerkel named Jake shows "ake"-words.|
|Dance Myself to Sleep
|A song previously used in a Bert and Ernie segment, featuring an insomniatic lion.|
- "Sally Cruikshank: A Career Retrospective Part Two." ArtOfTheTitle.com, May 27, 2015
- ""CTW and MTV: Shorts of Influence," Animation World Magazine, Issue 2.6, September 1997.