Sesame Street and Big Bird celebrate their 40th anniversary today. Big Bird and Sesame Street came to television on November 10, 1969 and through the Jim Henson characters have captivated generations of tv audiences.
At 40, Sesame Street is the longest running children’s program on US television.
In the 1960s, the Carnegie Institute following a proposal by Joan Ganz Cooney gave $8 million to establish the Children’s Television Workshop and deliver new programming. Additional funding came from Ford, the US Government, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The show was promoted before its air date with a 30 minute trailer that would air on NBC called This Way to Sesame Street. When the show aired, it would quickly earn a 3.3 Nielsen rating.
Big Bird would appear on screen with First Lady Pat Nixon in 1970. Jim Henson has since explained that the character played by Carroll Spinney in a suit is not a muppet. Big Bird’s breed has also been in dispute, thought to be a canary, but later explained as more of a condor.
Happy 40th Anniversary!