A listing of major events in the development, rise, evolution, and enduring success of Sesame Street.
- Joan Ganz Cooney does a feasibility study on children and television for the Carnegie Corporation.
- Joan Ganz Cooney becomes a television consultant to Carnegie and the decision is made to pursue a television project for preschool children.
- Press conference announcing establishment of Children's Television Workshop with Joan Ganz Cooney serving as Executive Director.
- The Muppets and Jim Henson are signed to the show.
- James Earl Jones films the first celebrity guest appearance for the show.
- Sesame Street premieres on November 10 on NET (the predecessor to PBS) and several commercial stations including WPIX in New York. Two nights earlier a preview of the series is shown in prime time on the NBC network.
- Season 1 introduces such characters as Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Bert, Ernie, Bob, Gordon, Susan, and Mr. Hooper. Kermit the Frog and several other pre-existing Muppets, including precursors of Cookie Monster and Grover, appear as well.
- Big Bird appears on the cover of Time.
- Sesame Street receives the George Foster Peabody Award, three Emmy awards and the Prix Jeunesse award.
- The first Sesame Street original cast album is released on Columbia Records. It wins a Grammy award.
- The Sesame Street cast tours 14 cities to encourage viewership by children and their parents.
- Sesame Street Magazine debuts.
- Prairie Dawn, the show's first prominent female Muppet, is created for Season 2.
- Season 2 introduces David and Linda.
- Season 3 introduces Luis and Maria.
- The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone and illustrated by Mike Smollin is published. The book sells two million copies, an all-time one-year sales record for a single book.
- Mr. Snuffleupagus makes his Sesame Street debut.
- Linda Bove, a founding member of the National Theater of the Deaf, teaches sign language.
- Count von Count first appears on Sesame Street in the premiere of season 4.
- Hal Miller takes over the role of Gordon, who was previously played by Matt Robinson.
- The first international Sesame Street co-production Vila Sésamo debuts in Brazil.
- Mexico's Sesame Street co-production, Plaza Sésamo, premieres and features Abelardo, a crocodile who loves to solve problems and learn new things. Plaza Sésamo focuses on literacy, diversity and gender equity.
- The curriculum for Season 5 includes lessons on emotions and feelings. New Muppet characters introduced this year include a group called the Twiddlebug Family and two construction workers, Biff and Sully.
- Sesamstrasse, the German Sesame Street co-production, debuts and emphasizes the importance of creative play, the value of respect for self and others and appreciating different environments.
- Sesame Street Canada debuts.
- Starting in Season 6, Roscoe Orman takes over the role of Gordon.
- Sesame Street airs on 250 American television stations and in 41 countries worldwide.
- Sesame Street’s float makes its first appearance in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
- Sesame Street Records is launched.
- Sesame Street visits the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico in a five part episode (starting in Episode 0810).
- The Smithsonian Institute exhibits Bert and Ernie.
- Sesamstraat, the Netherlands' co-production of Sesame Street, premieres and highlights important social and emotional lessons for Dutch children.
- Season 8 focuses on female roles as Olivia, a photographer, moves to Sesame Street.
- Sesame Street’s 1,000th episode airs.
- Sesame Street travels to Hawaii to help children learn about and appreciate differences and diversity among people with an 8-episode arc starting in episode 1089.
- "Sesame Street Fever" spoofs the disco craze.
- In season 10 children learn about ethnic diversity, deafness and sign language, dental care and exercise. Science segments ask, “What's alive?” and “What's inside?”
- Big Bird visits the White House to attend a children's diplomatic holiday reception.
- 1, Rue Sésame, France's Sesame Street co-production, premieres with a focus on poetry, art and music.
- Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, an hour-long Sesame Street Christmas special airs in primetime on PBS on December 3. It wins an Emmy award.
- Sesame Street celebrates its 10th anniversary with a half-hour PBS special hosted by James Earl Jones, A Walking Tour of Sesame Street.
- Maria visits her family in Puerto Rico. Six episodes filmed on location in San German air, starting with episode 1316.
- A Sesame Street co-production in Kuwait, Iftah Ya Simsim, introduces cultural traditions, legends and history.
- Barrio Sésamo launches in Spain.
- C-3PO and R2-D2 from Star Wars visit Sesame Street in two episodes - episode 1364 and 1396.
- Sesame Place theme park opens near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Sesame Street Live goes on tour.
- Season 13 focuses on school skills, such as taking turns and raising hands, are taught. The role of the teacher and the structure of a school day are explained, as are such skills as listening and following directions. Children also learn to identify sounds and recognize pitch, rhythm, tempo and sound patterns.
- Sesame Street co-production Svenska Sesam premieres in Sweden with a curriculum emphasizing socio-emotional development.
- Big Bird goes to camp in a 5-part episode, starting in episode 1706.
- Sesame Street helps children appreciate reading in season 14. Using stories, poems, letters, and newspaper articles, children learn that reading is fun and informative.
- After Will Lee, who portrayed Mr. Hooper, dies in late 1982, a decision is made to not replace the actor, nor have him retire or move away. Sesame Street curricular experts and scriptwriters carefully plan how to tell young children about death. The episode (1839) wins an Emmy Award.
- Big Bird visits China in the special Big Bird in China, and the entire cast visits New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art in the special Don't Eat the Pictures.
- Israel's Sesame Street co-production Rechov Sumsum debuts teaching children about traditions, heritage and Israeli daily life.
- Sesame! a co-production in the Philippines debuts.
- A curriculum goal for seasons 15 and 16 is familiarizing viewers with computers and their capabilities, specifically encouraging the development of creative writing skills with the keyboard. A new computer is installed in the Fix-It Shop in episode 1933.
- Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird is released in movie theaters.
- Elmo, initially a generic red monster performed by Brian Muehl and then by Richard Hunt, is taken over by Kevin Clash who reinvigorates the once minor character and eventually takes him to unforeseen heights of popularity.
- Long thought to be imaginary, Mr. Snuffleupagus is revealed to the adults of Sesame Street in the season 17 premiere (2096).
- Susan and Gordon adopt Miles in a multi-part story starting in episode 2122.
- In season 18 children learn to count to 40. They learn about the concept of zero and about adding and subtracting numbers larger than 10. They also learn about recognizing and completing patterns.
- Gina, a teenager, moves to Sesame Street and starts working at Hooper's Store.
- Random House Home Video starts releasing Sesame Street videos.
- Alice Snuffleupagus, Snuffy's little sister, joins the cast in season 19.
- Maria and Luis get married in episode 2485.
- A Big Bird balloon makes its first appearance in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
- Sesame Street celebrates its 20th anniversary . A primetime special hosted by Bill Cosby, Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting, airs on NBC on April 7.
- Maria and Luis have a baby girl named Gabriela, giving birth in the season 20 finale (2615).
- Rua Sésamo debuts in Portugal.
- Turkey's Susam Sokağı premieres with a focus on building language and number skills.
- In season 21, Gina graduates from high school, Miles starts kindergarten and Gabriela enters day care.
- David leaves the series and Mr. Handford joins the cast as the new owner of Hooper's Store.
- Season 21 welcomes a new human character to the cast, Savion.
- First Lady Barbara Bush visits Sesame Street and reads the book "Peter's Chair".
- Fairy tale character Baby Bear first appears in season 22 as a recurring Muppet character, while season 23 introduces a Latina Muppet, Rosita.
- Big Bird visits Crow children in Montana to learn about Native-American traditions and respect for family and nature in a multi-episode arc starting in episode 2881.
- Sesam Stasjon, Norway's Sesame Street co-production debuts with a curriculum supporting the goals of the Norwegian educational system.
- Sesame Street goes on location to visit Navajo, Cherokee and Iroquois Native Americans.
- Sesame Street goes "around the corner" and introduces The Furry Arms Hotel, Finders Keepers, Celina's Dance Studio and Gina's Family Day Care Center.
- Ruth Buzzi joins cast as Ruthie.
- Zoe, a charming three-year-old Muppet, joins the cast as do humans Angela, Jamal and their baby Kayla. Children Nathan, Tarah and Carlo also come on board.
- The New Year's Eve special Sesame Street Stays Up Late airs with guest appearances by characters from some of the international versions of Sesame Street.
- First Lady Hillary Clinton discusses healthy habits with Big Bird and Rosita during a visit to Sesame Street.
- Sesame Street celebrates its 25th birthday.
- Big Bird receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- Sony Wonder begins releasing Sesame Street videos and albums, in addition to re-releasing past titles.
- Polish culture is the focus of the Sesame Street co-production Ulica Sezamkowa that premieres in Poland.
- Canadian co-production Sesame Park debuts.
- Ulitsa Sezam, Russia's adaptation of Sesame Street, airs for the first time
- The Tickle Me Elmo talking plush doll is produced by Tyco and quickly becomes the year's hottest toy. Tyco is unable to keep up with the demand during the Christmas season. Over 5-million dolls were sold within the first year.
- On May 5, as part of the Cinco de Mayo celebration on Sesame Street, Abelardo from Plaza Sésamo came to visit his cousin Big Bird for the first time.
- Slimey makes an historic trip to the moon over a 6-episode arc, with references to the journey in additional episodes.
- Season 30 welcomes Alan to the cast as the new owner of Hooper's Store.
- "Elmo's World" debuts.
- Elmopalooza, a one-hour TV special, aired on ABC on February 20 to celebrate the show's 30th anniversary.
- Sesame Street co-production Shara'a Simsim premieres in Palestine.
- Zhima Jie, the Chinese version of Sesame Street, debuts on Shanghai TV, and emphasizes aesthetics and the arts.
- Sesame Street marks its 30th birthday.
- The feature film, The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, debuts in theaters in October.
- Sesame Street wins its 75th Emmy award.
- Big Bird is featured on a U.S. postage stamp.
- The FOX network special, CinderElmo, airs for the first time in December.
- The Children's Television Workshop changes its name to Sesame Workshop to acknowledge that its mission stretches far beyond the world of television into a wide variety of interactive media.
- Takalani Sesame launches on television and radio in South Africa.
- Sesamestreet.com is relaunched with a brand new look and added features.
- Sesame Workshop purchases the rights to the Sesame Street Muppets from the Jim Henson Company, then under ownership of EM.TV. However Henson's puppet workshop continues to build and maintain the puppets used on the show.
- Big Bird's nest is destroyed in a hurricane and children learn about coping with loss with a 5-part story starting in episode 3976.
- Sesame Street: Music Works, an initiative promoting the importance of music in child development, launches with a live webcast.
- A new Big Bird balloon premieres at the 75th Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
- The Egyptian Sesame Street co-production, Alam Simsim, debuts and features Khokha, a four-year-old Muppet girl with a passion for learning. She serves as a role model for girls.
- Sesame Street premieres a revised format in season 33 that includes new segments such as "Journey to Ernie" and "The Spanish Word of the Day."
- Four special episodes (3981, 4021, 4026, and 4029) are produced to indirectly address the September 11th disaster by helping kids develop strategies for coping with fear, loss, diversity and bullies. New York City firefighters appear on the show.
- Sesame Street's 4,000th episode airs.
- Sesame Street wins its 85th Daytime Emmy award.
- The recording "Elmo and the Orchestra" wins Sesame Street its 10th Grammy award.
- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan makes an appearance on Sesame Street to teach the Muppets about working together.
- Elmo testifies before a House Labor subcommittee about the importance of music education for children.
- Kami, the first HIV-positive Muppet, debuts on South Africa's co-production Takalani Sesame.
- Two new segments premiere on Sesame Street in season 34, "Global Thingy" and "Global Grover," introducing children to the world around them.
- First Lady Laura Bush visits Sesame Street and reads a book titled, "Wubba Wubba Woo."
- A new Muppet is born on Sesame Street, Baby Bear's sister - Curly Bear.
- Sesame Workshop launches the "You Can Ask!" initiative, a multi-lingual project to help children cope with stress and trauma.
- Sesame Stories, a new television production and outreach initiative that impacts children in the Middle East, launches in Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, promoting respect and understanding.
- Sesame Street season 35 premieres on PBS with a prime time special.
- Sesame Street wins its 97th Emmy award.
- A local Sesame Street educational outreach initiative is launched in Afghanistan to encourage literacy and numeracy, as well as sharing and cooperation.
- Using nature as a thematic springboard for showcasing Japan's unique cultural heritage and for conveying educational goals appropriate for Japanese preschoolers, Sesame Street Japan launches on TV Tokyo.
- Takalani Sesame launches a national call-to-action with “talk to me…” a South African multimedia campaign to promote communication between adults and children on the crucial subject of HIV and AIDS.
- Rruga Sesam (Albanian language) and Ulica Sezam (Serbian language) debut in Kosovo.
- Sesame Workshop launches "Healthy Habits for Life" an initiative to address the issue of childhood obesity.
- Sesame Street's 36th season debuts with a focus on encouraging healthy eating and physical activity, as part of the “Healthy Habits for Life” initiative. The initiative elicits a tremendous public response to teaching Cookie Monster that "A Cookie is a Sometimes Food." Murray Monster makes his debut as a nameless monster seen in talk spots with kids.
- Sesame Street wins its 101st Emmy, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the Most Emmy Wins by a Television Series.
- 5, Rue Sésame premieres in France, featuring regionally produced live action and animation segments as well as new Muppet characters, including an energetic girl in a wheelchair named Griotte.
- Sisimpur, a Sesame Street co-production in Bangladesh, debuts.
- Alam Simsim debuts on Arab satellite station Future TV with new regional live action films from Lebanon and United Arab Emirates, reaching an estimated 280 million viewers.
- Sabai Sabai Sesame, a version of Sesame Street specially adapted for Cambodia, premieres in that region.
- A documentary about Sesame Street’s international co-productions, The World According to Sesame Street, debuts at the Sundance Film Festival.
- The Indian co-production Galli Galli Sim Sim debuts in August.
- U.S. First Lady Laura Bush tapes a segment for the first season of India's Galli Galli Sim Sim.
- Sesame Beginnings, a research-based DVD series for parents and young children under age 2 that encourages learning through parent-child interactions and features baby versions of the Muppets from Sesame Street, debuts with its first two titles.
- Caroll Spinney receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences at the 33rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards for his work as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.
- In season 37, Abby Cadabby, a fairy-in-training, moves to Sesame Street and Gina adopts a baby boy, Marco, from Guatemala.
- Sesame Workshop launches Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families During Military Deployment an initiative designed for military families with children to help them cope with the feelings, challenges and concerns experienced during various phases of deployment.
- The Muppets of Plaza Sésamo visit Columbia for the first time as Sesame Workshop produces original live action segments for the show's 11th season.
- Season 38 focuses the show on literacy and vocabulary enhancement. Each episode in the season begins with a "What's the Word on the Street?" segment hosted by Murray Monster that introduces and defines the Word of the Day. These words are used and reinforced throughout the episodes.
- A new human character, Chris, the nephew of Gordon and Susan, joins the cast.
- Hikayat Simsim, a co-production in Jordan launches with a focus on teaching basic skills and Jordanian culture
- One week after its launch, the Sesame Street Podcast reaches number 1 on iTunes top podcast list.
- Sesame Workshop launches Jalan Sesama, presenting basic cognitive and social skills to the children of Indonesia, while representing the vibrant diversity of the country's vast archipelago.
- Sesame Tree debuts on BBC Northern Ireland television. This new media project aims to encourage children in Northern Ireland to explore and appreciate the world around them and promote respect and understanding.
- Talk, Listen, Connect: Deployments, Homecomings, Changes, the second phase of the Workshop's military outreach program launches, helping military families with young children cope with the effects of deployments, multiple deployments or when a parent returns home changed due to a combat related injury. Additionally, The Sesame Street Experience for Military Families visits 43 military installations across the country.
- Season 39 debuts, in hi-definition, with new cast member Leela, a young Indian-American who embraces her heritage and culture. New regular segments "Murray Has a Little Lamb," and "Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures" also debut.
- Sesame Workshop launches a redesigned website sesamestreet.org simultaneously with the premiere of Sesame Street's 39th season.
- Sisimpur launches its 5th season on Bangladesh's BTV.
- Health messages related to HIV/AIDS and malaria are part of Kilimani Sesame when it launches in Tanzania.
- The planetarium show One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure debuts, taking viewers in China and the U.S. on an exciting discovery of the sun, moon, and stars. The show and educational outreach initiative is a bi-national collaboration between Sesame Workshop, Beijing Planetarium, the Adler Planetarium and Liberty Science Center.
- Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis is released. The book focuses on the development and rise of Sesame Street as an influential children's show and pop culture staple.
- Sesame Workshop partners with USAID and launches Sesame Street Presents: The Adventures of Kami and Big Bird, an outreach effort to provide resources about HIV and AIDS to Nigerian children and caregivers.
- Coming Home: Military Families Cope with Change airs April 1 on PBS. The special tells the stories of service members who return home with injuries, visible and invisible, and explores the heroic struggles their families face in discovering a new way of finding a "new normal," is hosted by Queen Latifah and Elmo, and features John Mayer.
- Sesamgade, a new Sesame Street block premieres in Denmark with original Danish material and a Danish Elmo.
- Sesame Street wins its 122nd Daytime Emmy Award and is honored with a Lifetime Achievement Emmy from NATAS.
- Sesame Street celebrates its 40th anniversary with the launch of its new season exactly 40 years to the day of its premiere on November 10. Sesame Street marks the occasion with a commemorative book and DVD set, as well as a week-long takeover of the Google logo.
- First Lady Michelle Obama plants a garden with Elmo and Big Bird on Sesame Street.
- When Families Grieve, airs April 14 on PBS. The special presents strategies for families coping with the death of a parent, as Elmo's family deals with the death of Uncle Jack.
- Season 41 addresses the processes of scientific investigation, with 13 shows focused on this topic. One of the main curricular goals is to encourage children to think scientifically and to model the scientific process.
- The documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey debuts at the Sundance Film Festival. The film focuses on the life and career of puppeteer Kevin Clash.
- The show's 42nd season debuts in September, teaching lessons based on the show's new STEM curriculum to teach science.
- The video game, Once Upon a Monster, debuts on Xbox Kinect.
- Sesame Workshop and Microsoft launch Kinect Sesame Street TV for the Xbox Kinect system, allowing viewers to interact with the program and characters while watching specially created episodes of the show.
- With the premiere of the show's 43rd season, Elmo's World is replaced with a new segment, Elmo the Musical.
- Sesame Street received national media attention when Presidential candidate Mitt Romney mentions Big Bird in the presidential debate.
- Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce is released online. The special resource video presents strategies for families and children coping with divorce, as Abby Cadabby deals with the divorce of her parents.
- Sesame Street becomes the first non-profit YouTube channel and the first U.S. children's media outlet to reach 1-billion views.
- Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration is released online, providing support to kids who have one or more parents in jail.
- Season 44 debuts, focusing on Hispanic culture, as well as executive functioning skills. The season also introduces the new human character, Armando and a new Cookie Monster segment.
- The documentary I Am Big Bird premieres at Canada's Hot Docs Festival, highlighting the life and career of longtime Sesame Street puppeteer Caroll Spinney.
- Sesame Street hosts its first panel at San Diego International Comic Con.
- The Furchester Hotel, a UK co-production, debuts on the BBC in Europe and on YouTube in the United States.
- Sesame Amigos an American-based spin-off of the Spanish-language series Plaza Sésamo debuts in the United States on Univision.
- Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children, an initiative aimed at helping reduce the stigma of autism, is launched in October.
- The 46th season introduces new changes to the set along with the show's move to a new channel and a shortened, half-hour format. New episodes debut first-run on HBO and then air on PBS following a nine-month window.
- Sesame Street season 47 introduces Julia, a Muppet with Autism, in Episode 4715, and gives Abby Cadabby a stepbrother named Rudy in Episode 4731.
- Elmo's World returns in reformatted, shorter segments.
- Sesame Street kicks-off its 48th season with the prime-time special The Magical Wand Chase.
- Caroll Spinney, the original performer of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, retires from performing during production on the show's 50th season.
- Sesame Workshop launches online resources to help children coping with homelessness, with a series of videos featuring Lily, the first Sesame Street character to experience homelessness.
- Sesame Street commemorates its 50th anniversary with a year-long celebration that includes the release of new books and videos, a nationwide road trip, and a primetime television special.
- The campaign "Respect Brings Us Together" launches, teaming the Sesame Street Muppets with characters from Game of Thrones and Westworld to teach the importance of respect.
- Julia's family, who were previously introduced in a digital storybook, make their first on-screen appearance in a series of resource videos produced for Sesame Street's autism initiative.
- A Sesame Street-themed area opens in SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.
- Sesame Workshop announces follow-ups to their homelessness resources. Karli, a young monster in the care of two foster parents, appears in a series of videos about foster care that premiere in May, with more videos focusing on substance abuse following in October.
- The Empire State Building is lit in Sesame Street yellow and green on November 10, in honor of the show's anniversary. Two days prior, Big Bird and original performer Caroll Spinney appeared to flip the ceremonial switch to light the building. Spinney was honored with the New York City mayoral proclamation of November 8 as "Caroll Spinney Day."
- Sesame Street receives the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime artistic achievements, marking the first time a television program has been honored.
- Sesame Workshop launches Caring for Each Other, an initiative designed to help families during the coronavirus pandemic. A companion television special, Elmo's Playdate, is simulcast on April 14 across several networks, followed by Elmo's Playdate: Scavenger Hunt.
- The Sesame Street characters appear in The ABCs of COVID-19, a series of CNN town hall specials that air throughout the year focused on staying healthy during the pandemic.
- In response to racial protests nationwide, CNN airs the town hall special Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism on June 6. Another Sesame Street special addressing racism, The Power of We, follows in October.
- Sesame Street season 51 premieres on HBO Max, marking the first time the show airs its first-run episodes on a streaming service rather than broadcast television. The spin-off series The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo also debuts on the service.
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