The Forgotten Stars of Sesame Street
Since its premier on November 10, 1969 Sesame Street has been a positive influence on the youth of America as well as the other 120+ countries it has been shown. With its cast of people and puppets intermingling on a seemingly utopian New York street setting, many lessons are taught about values in society. Many times puppets find themselves in troublesome situations and in time, learn an appropriate means of dealing with that situation usually with guidance form an adult figure. Out of the huge cast of monster like puppets only a handful of furry beast have been popular enough to make their way into the marketing mainstream of toys, books, etc. Perhaps the most popular puppet of all time is Kermit the frog. Kermit not only has achieved success on Sesame Street but also is a main figure in the world of the Muppets, other well known sesame street superstars include the likes of Grover and Elmo. I tend to think that Elmo has had the most popular and aggressive marketing done on his behalf, skyrocketing his popularity, allowing him to be the host of his show within the show…Elmo’s World. I can’t help but think about all the other members of the monster cast that never received their due credit as a superstar and not just another face in the puppet monster arena.
First of all you have Telly Monster. Telly was always very emotional … almost bipolar. When he was happy he was very happy and he we was sad he practically tried to slit his monster wrists. I don’t feel that Telly ever achieved a wide notoriety outside of the show. A little history research on Telly revealed that his name is derived from the English word for television. In the early appearances on Sesame Street, Telly had an affixation with televisions and actually had antennas standing on the top of his head, his eyes would also whirl around when watching television. Telly’s television affixation was soon dropped in fear of portraying negative influences to children. Instead Telly became affiliated with pogo sticks and the musical triangle. Telly almost seems to be guinea pig for creating the marketing superstar, Elmo. Let’s think about it here. Telly is a husky looking monster with a pinkish color that had an elongated face. Elmo of course is a small skinny puppet with a wide oval head and a brighter newer looking red color. Elmo is known for his happy optimistic outlook and youthful innocence while Telly is more of a glass half empty type. To put it simply … Elmo is better AND redder. If Elmo and Telly were children in a family it would be much like the Brady bunch. Elmo being Marsha and Telly being Jan. Telly actually has some family though it would seem. He has a cousin named Izzy monster, a punk looking light blue monster sporting a backwards facing baseball cap. Telly also has a sister named Juliette, who is rarely seen anymore on the street. No wonder Telly is always so worried, heís got a bully cousin coming around roughing him up and heís got a sister that he has no idea what happened to. There is also some connection between the baby monster Natasha and Telly, perhaps a little sister or cousin … or could it be something more scandalous?
Since Sesame Street has been around for quite a while now, some of the cast is … on paper anyways … getting quite old. Grover is one of the classic puppets and a personal favorite. I always thought Grover has a voice that is frighteningly similar to that of Yoda only more cheery. It must be tough seeing all these new, younger, more thought out puppets taking over the street. I personally think Elmo and Grover probably don’t get along. Grover in his prime was VERY popular and what happens? He gets older, becomes yesterday’s news, watching as this pint size red Elmo fellow takes over the street. As I remember, Grover is the only monster that had a super hero alter ego. Appropriately named Super Grover. Now that’s pretty cool. Elmo doesn’t have that … at least not yet. Maybe Grover has a clause in his contract stating his exclusivity to the super hero alter ego.
Here are some other monsters/characters that come to mind:
• Guy Smiley
Guy Smiley who of course was the ever talented game show host. Smiley was actually retired after the death of Jim Henson his voice and puppeteer. Guy Smiley helped children understand what annoying meant, before they actually knew the word itself.
• The Honkers
The Honkers were the monsters who looked like a cross bastardization between Telly and a bicycle horn. They had trumpet like instruments for horns and when they pushed their noses the trumpet horns would sound, much like that of a bicycle horn you squeeze to sound.
• Prairie Dawn
Prairie Dawn, as I remember was the only female puppet that wasn’t a monster. I think that maybe Prairie Dawn should hook up with either Burt or Ernie and dispel the rumors that have been floating around about them … not that there’s anything wrong with that of course.
• The Martians
The Martians almost totally escaped my memory until I stumbled across them on a sesame street webpage. For those of you who don’t remember, the Martians were fuzzy alien looking creatures with HUGE mouths whose lower jaw could encompass the rest of their face. They also had antenna on their head and their whole bodies resembled an obelisk of sorts. They would often zip around, disappear and reappear, and go Yip Yip Yip.
From all this looking back at sesame street, I have noticed that some of the puppets little quirks may be treatable with modern medication. Here’s a list of those who could be treated, what condition they may have and with what medication to treat them.
• Telly – General Anxiety – Valium
• Oscar -Alcoholism – 12 step program
• Ernie – ADD – Ritalin
• The Two Headed Monster – Dissociative identity disorder – psychological evaluation/antidepressants
• Bert – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Antidepressants
In closing, Elmo, you may be the most popular person on the street, but there are the other people in your neighborhood too. Some with dangerous psychological issues that may be close to snapping.