Nearly everybody has watched the educational program Sesame Street, and it’s pretty much in everybody’s childhood for some length of time. It was a product of Joan Ganz Cooney and Carnegie Foundation vice president Lloyd Morrisett. Through many meetings with child educators and psychologists of the 70s, they had a solid idea on what to construct. Many talents worked behind the scenes–namely puppeteers Jim Henson, Caroll Spinney, and Frank Oz (to name a few) and important to this series success is writer/director Jon Stone. In front of the camera, the list is enormous.
Marilyn Agrelo‘s excellent documentary, Street Gang, is a fascinating look from this series humble beginnings to where it is now. The breadth of information compressed to 107 minutes is very comprehensive. If there’s anything missed, it’s only because it didn’t fit into the narrative about what made this show special to children and adults alike.
No show is without some controversy; maybe the play on a Beatles song was too much. At least it’s humorously addressed.
I Am Big Bird is one of those rare biographies that tells a heartwarming tale about not just one of pop culture’s beloved icons. Puppeteer Caroll Spinney is now in his 80’s and the life he gave to Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch shows that both he and the characters he helped create have resiliency — even when new characters are introduced in a television program that’s still ongoing.
After having a difficult childhood with his own parents, namely his father, and finding a place to belong, there’s happiness in his soul. Back in the days, his life-long admiration of puppeteering and playing with “dolls” was misunderstood. In what he developed for himself (including his skill with a pen and brush) is sweetly examined and audiences can not help but shed at least one tear afterwards.