Today, also known as The Today Show, is a daily morning news and talk program on NBC. Debuting in January 1952, it is also the third-longest running American television series.
The Muppets were frequent guests on Today in the early 1960s, doing local cut-ins for the show from Washington, D.C. They performed sketches from Sam and Friends; Jim Henson and Jane Nebel were also interviewed occasionally.
Decades later, the Muppets still make regular appearances on the show to promote current projects. Miss Piggy has had a particularly stormy past on the show; she seems to have a romantic history with co-host Matt Lauer, and she's had dust-ups with hosts Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira. Elmo has also had a long standing flirtation with news anchor Ann Curry.
The Muppets have also played host to the Today hosts -- Lauer, Natalie Morales and weatherman Al Roker have all appeared on Sesame Street. Willard Scott and Jane Pauley were guests on The Jim Henson Hour in episode 103, when Fozzie Bear visited the set of Today. Matt Lauer interviewed Cookie Monster on Sesame Street's Episode 4115 about the "Veggie Monster" controversy.
- The Muppets appeared regularly once or twice a month in 1961 (often via satellite) which became weekly appearances by the end of 1962. Following Jim Henson's move to New York City in January 1963, the Muppets made 24 appearances on Today in the first half of the year.
- April 10, 1961 -- Host Dave Garroway introduces the Muppets performing "Yes, We Have No Bananas".
- January 30, 1963 -- Jim Henson wears a coat with a removable collar during a Jack Lescoulie segment on men's fashions.
- March 8, 1963 -- "The Rulers of Tinkerdee"
- June 1963 - Kermit and Harry the Hipster observe a statue, "The Loneliness of Gahdahyu" by Giuseppe Romeo, and discuss its artistic merit. The statue of Gahdahyu eventually comes alive and flirts with them.
- April 3, 1974 -- Ernie and Bert get interviewed by Gene Shalit. Bert announces he's going to be an interviewer on the show, but Ernie informs him that he'll need a disguise so he won't be recognized on the street, so Bert dresses as Gene Shalit.
- January 12, 1977 -- Jim Henson does the Today Show for the 45th time, along with Frank Oz. Kermit the Frog appears in his reporter attire to introduce the station break with Gene Shalit. After their performance of "Java", Shalit interviews Henson and Oz, who are joined briefly by Kermit the Frog and Grover; Shalit asks whether the two are rivals.
- August 8, 1977 - Gene Shalit interviews Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, and Miss Piggy, and later Jim Henson, who talks about their worldwide appeal, and Frank Oz talks about "Halfway Down the Stairs".
- September 26, 1979 - Phil Donahue interview Dr. Dorothy Singer, co-director of Yale University's Family TV-Research Centre, and Edward Palmer, VP of Research for CTW about the effectiveness of the program. Palmer feels a study's suggestion Sesame Street causes hyperactivity is unfair; the study also looked at Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
- April 17, 1980 - Having rediscovered the Muppet pipes at the NBC studio, Gene Shalit takes Jim Henson to see them and talk about them.
- August 18, 1980 - Gene Shalit interviews Frank Oz.
- July 27, 1981 - Tom Brokaw in London interviews Jim Henson and Frank Oz about their careers with the Muppets. Upcoming movie is titled "Dark Crystal" and introduces a new, different kind of creature. They say they are at a loss to comprehend Miss Piggy's popularity. They regard commercial spinoffs from the Muppets as secondary. Their emphasis is on entertainment from the heart. Segment created while Today was in Britain, covering the Royal wedding. Peter Ustinov appeared on the program later.
- March 15, 1982 - Kermit and Jim Henson appear; Kermit sings "Bein' Green."
- December 7, 1982 - A taped segment starts with clips of Ernie and Bert, Kermit the Frog riding a bicycle, Yoda, E.T. walking down an aisle at the premiere. It then shows behind the scenes production of Dark Crystal, and masks used in production. Producer Gary Kurtz notes that Jim Henson has been "granted artistic freedom" by the movie, and reassures viewers that while successful, the puppets will not fully replace human actors.
- December 8, 1982 - Pretaped piece with Jim Henson discussing how the creatures were created and manipulated for the film. Producer Gary Kurtz mentions the technical issues encountered in filming.
- December 14, 1982 - Jim Henson appears in a live interview, and discusses The Dark Crystal: its all-puppet cast, the choice of Panavision to capture detail, crediting Frank Oz for creative input, mentioning the Muppets will continue, and Kermit will not marry Miss Piggy.
- July 10, 1984 -- Willard Scott introduces Gene Shalit's interview with Jim Henson, which starts with Henson throwing out a nod to Scott about having begun his career working with him at WRC-TV. Henson is promoting the company's new film, The Muppets Take Manhattan, which Shalit says is a refreshing break from the summer's crop of terrible movies. This launches into a discussion about violence on the screen in contemporary cinema. Later, Kermit stops in for an interview (he's even miked on his collar), and receives the usual volley of questions about the rumors concerning a marriage and on-again/off-again relationship with Miss Piggy.
- March 16, 1986 - Director Jim Henson interviewed about Labyrinth. The in the interview, he says he loves to perform, and he is comfortable directing large films. The new movie is noted as more comical than Dark Crystal. Henson says scenes were tailored to what Bowie would do musically, and that Jennifer Connelly was exactly what he was looking for in an actress. In an interview, Connelly tells that she has gotten used to talking to "Muppets", noting each creature is believable. The segment ends with Henson, who "maintains he knows how to handle creatures in his films." Behind the scenes clips are interspliced.
- June 25, 1986 -- Jim Henson appears to promote upcoming film Labyrinth, and reassure viewers that it is a family film.
- June 30, 1986 -- Jennifer Connelly appears on Today to talk about her career, including newly released film Labyrinth.
- July 1, 1986 -- Gene Shalit gives Labyrinth an unfavorable review.
- January 27, 1987 -- Gene Shalit interviews Jim Henson about The StoryTeller.
- November 14, 1988 -- Big Bird assists Willard Scott with the weather; Meryl Sheep and Count von Count take over for regular anchors Jane Pauley and Bryant Gumbel.
- April 14, 1989 -- Jim Henson and Kermit appear to talk with Jane Pauley about The Jim Henson Hour, which premiered later that night. Behind the scenes footage of "Just to See Her" with Smokey Robinson is shown.
- May 4, 1990 -- Kermit and Miss Piggy appear to promote The Muppets at Walt Disney World. Tension between the two rises, reaching a boiling point when Piggy blurts out that their relationship isn't working and karate chops both Kermit and Deborah Norville. This appearance was planned as part of the short-lived "Pig of the Nineties" campaign, which was halted with the death of Jim Henson less than two weeks later. Kermit referenced the appearance when he appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show, and a clip of it was featured in a special edition of MSNBC's Time and Again.
- November 9, 1990 -- Sonia Manzano and Valeria Lovelace talk about the new curriculum for the 22nd season of Sesame Street. A clip of Elmo and Whoopi Goldberg is shown.
- 1993 -- Katie Couric interviews Uncle Traveling Matt and Cotterpin Doozer who are promoting new releases of Fraggle Rock on VHS.
- April 16, 1996 -- Miss Piggy hosts a dinner party at Today to promote In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy, after Katie Couric lays the fork on the pig.
- October 17, 1997 -- Matt Lauer interviews Miss Piggy about her new book, Miss Piggy's Rules.
- January 1, 1998 -- The morning after New Year's Eve, Miss Piggy breaks up with her New Year's date, Matt Lauer. Some rats appear as well, with one taking over a camera, another leading a tour of the studio for other rats, and "Weatherrat Al Rodent". (video)
- Late 1998 -- Miss Piggy appears (earless) to promote her new perfume, Moi.
- March 8, 1999 -- Roscoe Orman and Elmo appear to promote Art From the Fuzzy and Famous.
- Unknown date, [1997-1998] -- Elmo appears with Rosie O'Donnell to promote her Christmas show and they sing "Do You Hear What I Hear?"
- January 2001 -- Kermit appears as George Washington on behalf of the United States Mint to unveil the latest quarter in the 50 State Quarters program for New York.
- June 12, 2001 -- Kermit and Gonzo celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Muppet Show
- January 14, 2002 -- Kermit and Miss Piggy appear for the show's 50th anniversary celebration. This is the last known appearance of Frank Oz as Piggy.
- September 21, 2005 -- Cheryl Henson and Kevin Clash talk with Matt Lauer to promote the new book It's Not Easy Being Green.
- December 28, 2005 -- Big Bird (Matt Vogel) appears with Rosemarie Truglio to promote Episode 4107 and Episode 4108, the "Adventures of Little Big Bird" two-parter.
- May 2006 -- With the announced departure of Katie Couric, assorted celebrities tape segments offering their farewells. Miss Piggy and Kermit appear on May 16, and Piggy takes offense at Kermit's sign: "Hey Matt, want a pig?" On May 25, Elmo shows up to offer his own goodbyes, following General Norman Schwarzkopf.
- August 14, 2006 -- Leslie Carrara-Rudolph performs Abby Cadabby in an introduction of the character to the general populus. Note: This appearance was originally scheduled for Friday, August 11th.
- September 6, 2006 -- Kevin Clash and Elmo appear together to promote Kevin's book My Life as a Furry Red Monster.
- September 14, 2006 -- Miss Piggy thinks that she's the new co-host, and not Meredith Vieira. And if that wasn't enough, the poor pig also has to deal with bacon breath.
- January 5, 2007 -- Miss Piggy pops out of the roughly four-foot-tall cake and sings "Happy Anchorversary" to Matt Lauer, in celebration of Lauer's 10th anniversary on the program.
- February 2, 2007 -- Elmo appears to celebrate his birthday and talks about his Walk-around Bookstore Tour to promote childhood literacy
- February 7, 2007 -- The cast of Sesame Street Live: Elmo's Coloring Book performs on the plaza to promote their run at Madison Square Garden.
- May 10, 2007 -- After a retrospective video looking at Ann Curry's 10 years on The Today Show, Elmo appears in a live segment from Italy wishing Ann well. The cast escort Curry to a short wall, from which Cookie Monster pops out from in behind. Cookie pulls out a plate of cookies, presents Ann with a bouquet of flowers, then calls in "Lou" to bring a case with an engraved necklace. As Ann hugs her co-hosts, Cookie starts to chow down on his cookies, before being hugged mid-eat by Ann.
- August 7, 2007 -- Miss Piggy appears behind the set's couch to talk to Al, Meredith, and Matt about The Muppet Show: Season Two DVD.
- August 10, 2007 -- Elmo promotes Season 38 of Sesame Street.
- December 25, 2007 -- Elmo, Abby and Grover appear and sing "We Need a Little Christmas."
- July 29, 2008 -- Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford talk to Kermit and Miss Piggy about the first Studio DC: Almost Live. Before the segment, Gifford apparently tried to provoke Miss Piggy, so she would react during the segment. After talking to the two about the guests, Piggy discusses her fitness regimen, shopping, and Kermit mentions he chases his food with his tongue. After discussing their relationship, Hoda asks Miss Piggy what she thinks of the fourth hour of The Today Show: "I've never watched it."
- November 13, 2008 -- "The Muppets Take Over Today" -- Muppet characters appear, taking over the program for a full half hour, 8:00 to 8:30 am EST. The appearance "perhaps not coincidentally" corresponded to the launch of The Muppet Whatnot Workshop. Scattered appearances continued throughout the program. Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy appear, with Christopher Meloni, and Harry Connick Jr. as fellow guests.
- November 27, 2008 -- The Muppets appear in a cooking segment on Thanksgiving. A Whatnot version of Al Roker is set to host the "cooking turkey" segment until a live turkey appears, explaining that they're actually doing a "cooking with a turkey" presentation. The turkey prepares a steak via a George Foreman grill, but a passing bull is shocked by what he sees, and sadly questions the steak: "Mama?!" Al happily closes the segment as the bull runs away in tears.
- December 17, 2008 -- Miss Piggy appears to plug A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. She reveals that she asked Santa for "one of those 25 billion dollar bailouts that the government's giving out." She explains that in the special she's furious at Kermit for canceling their vacation. Asked if she eventually forgives Kermit and gets in the holiday spirit, Piggy snaps, "Look, this is a holiday special. It has a happy ending, all right? It's okay. And plus, I could never stay mad at my Kermie. No. I like to think of him as mistletoe with webbed feet." Asked whether she's ever written a letter to Santa, Piggy says, "Oh, well, yes, of course I have. Look, I wouldn't leave any stone unturned when it comes to getting Christmas presents."
- February 6, 2009 -- Miss Piggy appears to promote The Diva Code.
- April 2, 2009 -- Elmo appears in his green version to promote his new DVD Being Green.
- May 14, 2009 -- Zoe appears to celebrate the announcement of Sesame Street’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
- November 6, 2009 -- The 40th Anniversary is discussed and Elmo, Cookie Monster and Abby appear to promote the new season. (video)
- December 3, 2009 -- Kermit and Piggy appear. Miss Piggy is sick and sneezing, but insists it isn't swine flu. (video)
- May 3, 2010 -- Elmo appears to promote The Best of Elmo 2. During a promotional bumper, Elmo appears with Betty White, giving the former "Golden Girl" a kiss. Elmo also continued his longtime flirtation with Ann Curry, and talked about his new friend Memorybot.
- June 8, 2010 -- Frank Oz appears with Jimmy Fallon to unveil a new exhibit on the 30 Rock Tour, the Muppet Pipes.
- June 7, 2012 -- Elmo appears to promote his campaign Elmo Should Go to the Olympics, and asks guest Chris Rock what the word "viral" means.
- August 9, 2012 -- Elmo, Grover and Abby Cadabby appear live from London to promote the 2012 Olympics event.
- October 2, 2012 -- Elmo appears during Today’s Take Three to promote "Elmo the Musical" and tries Michelle Obama's cookies.
- October 15, 2013 -- Brian Jay Jones, author of Jim Henson: The Biography, and Frank Oz discuss the life and work of Jim Henson. Originally scheduled on September 24 as a live interview but ultimately prepared as a longer feature with narration and interviews by Willie Geist.
- March 19, 2014 -- Kermit the Frog appears in the Orange Room with Tamron Hall to promote his new Twitter account. Later, Kermit and Miss Piggy chat with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. (link)
- February 13, 2015 -- Cookie Monster briefly appears during a "What's Trending Today" segment to promote the special The Cookie Thief.
- May 6, 2015 -- Caroll Spinney is interviewed by corespondent Jenna Bush Hager in promotion with the documentary I Am Big Bird. The segment features excerpts of Spinney at work on a Sesame Street episode for Season 46.
- January 16, 2016 -- Ernie and Abby Cadabby appear to promote Sesame Street’s 46th season. A segment on the show's move to HBO, with interview snippets of Brown Johnson, is shown.
- December 2, 2016 -- Miss Piggy appears to promote her Kate Spade New York collection, and #missadventure appearance with Zosia Mamet, her relationship status with Kermit, and how she's moving on by dating as many men, who are not Kermit, as possible (but not at the same time), and running into Matt Lauer's car.
- January 5, 2017 -- "Sesame Street Takeover" - Big Bird acts as stage manager, Oscar directs, Elmo takes over camera 3, and Cookie Monster and Abby appear for an unplanned cooking segment. Grover and Rosita also appear later on. A behind-the-scenes feature on the new Elmo's World segment is shown.
- February 13, 2017 -- Super Grover appears to help free Dean Cain and Kathie Lee from their locked dressing room. Meanwhile, Elmo and Abby Cadabby host the Today's Talk segment, and Big Bird appears to talk about the Yellow Feather Fund.
- March 27, 2017 -- Abby Cadabby, Julia and Sherrie Westin appear to promote the "Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children" initiative. (link)
- July 20, 2017 -- Steve Whitmire, fresh off the announcement that he was fired from performing for the Muppets, is interviewed to tell his side of the story.
- November 8, 2017 -- Megyn Kelly visits the Sesame Street set and interviews Alan, Elmo, Zoe, Abby, Telly and the Count. Rosemarie Truglio joins Kelly in-studio, along with Big Bird, Elmo, Rosita, Cookie Monster, Abby, Bert and Ernie. (video)
- November 8, 2018 -- A pre-recorded segment is shown featuring Today hosts Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Dylan Dreyer bringing their children to the Sesame Street set to meet Big Bird, Elmo, Grover, Abby Cadabby and Cookie Monster. Big Bird, Elmo and Abby also appear live in-studio to talk with the hosts.
- December 14, 2018 -- On the Sesame Street set, Craig Melvin interviews Sherrie Westin, and talks with Lily, Elmo and Grover, in promotion with Sesame Street in Communities' initiative on homelessness.
- July 1, 2019 -- In an online exclusive video filmed at the newly renovated Sesame Place, Sonia Manzano and Alan Muraoka reflect on the impact of Sesame Street in its 50 years on the air, their roles on the show, and their favorite guest stars.
- October 21, 2019 -- The Sesame Street Muppets (Elmo, Abby, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Rosita, Ernie, Bert, Oscar, Grover, and the Count) appeared to promote the 50th season and the 50th anniversary special. During the 3rd hour, Anything Muppet caricatures of anchors Al Roker (Noel MacNeal), Sheinelle Jones (Kathleen Kim), Craig Melvin (Christopher Hayes), and Dylan Dreyer (Leslie Carrara-Rudolph) appeared.
- November 17, 2019 -- The show's Sunday Spotlight story, titled "The Power of Sesame Street," features narration and interviews by Kristen Dahlgren with Sherrie Westin, Elmo, and Abby Cadabby.
- February 12, 2020 -- The cast of Sesame Street Live: Let's Party! perform in the studio to promote their run at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden.
- March 11, 2020 -- Abby Cadabby and Count von Count appear to promote the "Make Your Family Count" campaign as part of the 2020 census.
- April 13, 2020 -- Elmo appears for a live video chat interview during the show's fourth hour program, Today with Hoda & Jenna, to promote Elmo's Playdate.
- In Muppets Tonight episode 103, Bobo the Bear greets Sal Minella by saying "Hold it up there, J. Fred Muggs." Muggs was a trained chimpanzee who appeared on The Today Show from 1953 until 1957, and was included in Animal Planet's 50 Greatest TV Animals.
- The Sesame Street video Learning to Share parodies the program as "Cooperation Today," hosted by Katie Couric who gives reports themed around sharing and working together.
- In a Sesame Street segment (First: Episode 4115), Matt Lauer interviews Cookie Monster about the "Veggie Monster" rumors, which Cookie denies. The music playing during the segment is a parody of morning show themes, based around "Sesame Street Theme" and features a logo based on Today's.
- Jim Henson's Red Book 1/23/1963 – ‘Moved to NY.’
- Time and Again
- NBC Universal Archives- Jan. 30, 1963 archive summary
- Jim Henson's Red Book6/–/1962 – ‘Videotaped “Tales of the Tinkerdee” Atlanta’
- Jim Henson's Red Book "10/29/1968 – ‘Tonight Show – “Beautiful Day”.’"
- Jim's Red Book - 8/7/1979 ATV closes down on strike - after minor strikes
- Archival script displayed in The Jim Henson Exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image
- Jim Henson's Red Book -- 4/3/1974 – TODAY Show – Bert as Gene Shalit.
- Jim Henson's Red Book -- 1/12/11
- Jim Henson's Red Book -- 4/17/1980 – To Today Show – pipes – say hi to Willard Scott.
- excerpts included in Time and Again
- "Weekday mornings", Toronto Star, 20 July 1985, page 16.
- MSN.com archive - "The ANN-iversary" (2007-05-10)
- MSN.com archive - "Still stealing the stage, after all these years" (2007-08-07)
- "Today: July 29, 2008", listing on TV.com.
- Danielle Brennan, "THE MUPPETS TAKE OVER TODAY", Live from Studio 1A, November 13, 2008.
- MSNBC.com video: part 1, part 2.
- Brian Jay Jones's blog September 21, 2013
- Brian Jay Jones's blog October 10, 2013
- YouTube - Miss Piggy on the Today Show, September 14, 2006
- Rina Raphael, "Miss Piggy: Obama should make poodle First Pet", The Today Show, Nov. 12, 2008. Link include seven videos, the first three from this episode, the rest from previous appearances.
- "Miss Piggy still stealing the show"
- "The Morning After" - ToughPigs transcript of Miss Piggy's 1998 Today appearance