The inaugural episode of “Sesame Street” aired on Nov. 10, 1969. It began with Gordon taking a young girl, Sally, on a tour of the block so she could meet some of the human and Muppet characters. A series of educational skits, songs, and cartoons followed.

The world has never been the same.

The Museum of the Moving Image is currently celebrating this show’s 50th anniversary with screenings, panel discussions, exhibitions, workshops, and plenty of Miss Piggy. The fun continues with “Sesame Street: the Premiere” on Sunday, Nov. 10, at 2 p.m. (Exactly a half century after the debut.)

This is one of the museum’s frequent screening-and-live events. First, attendees will watch the episode. Then three people who helped create it ─ Bob McGrath (who played the role of Bob), Frank Biondo (a camera operator), and Dick Maitland (a sound effects technician) ─ will participate in a Q&A session.

General admission is $15, but seniors and students can attend for $11. The entry price is $9 for those aged three to 17, while there’s no charge for children under age three. All ticket purchases include same-day access to the rest of the museum.

A lot has changed since Nov. 9, 1969, when Richard Nixon was president, the song “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies was a big hit, and only about two-thirds of U.S. households owned a television. The inaugural “Sesame Street” noted in the opening credits that it was “in color” as images of children playing in schoolyards set the tone, claiming that this was a place where people (and Muppets) live in harmony.

The episode was sponsored by the letters E, S, and W and the numbers 2 and 3. Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, an orange Oscar the Grouch, Kermit the Frog, and an early version of the Cookie Monster were first non-human characters to hit the scene. The “Number Song” series and “Jazz” cartoons debuted, and Carol Burnett was the first celebrity guest.

As Sunday’s event is part of an ongoing Golden Jubilee celebration, the fun will continue with Lost and Found on Sunday, Nov. 24, at 2 p.m. Attendees will watch rate footage that never aired or was shelved after the initial broadcast. Some skits have characters that were quickly retired. Then, Norman Stiles, a former head writer, and Rosemarie Truglio, Sesame Workshop Senior Vice President of Curriculum and Content, will participate in a panel discussion on mysteries such as why viewers never saw Snuffy’s parents get a divorce even though the scene was shot.

The museum will host Christmas Eve on Sesame Street on Sunday, Dec. 22, at 2 p.m. Attendees will watch a 1978 special in which Big Bird ponders how Santa fits down the chimney and Ernie and Bert deal with a gift-giving dilemma. Then, Sonia Manzano, who played Maria, and other special guests will discuss the episode and present clips from other holiday specials.

These three movies will screen at the Redstone Theater inside the Museum of the Moving Image, which is located at 36-01 35th Ave. in Astoria’s Kaufman Arts District.

Editor’s note: The Jim Henson Exhibition is on permanent display on site. This show features nearly 300 objects, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, The Swedish Chef, Big Bird, and Elmo. Other items are character sketches, storyboards, scripts, photographs, costumes, and video clips. There are ongoing Muppet-inspired workshops (below image) as well.

Photos: Sesame Workshop (top); Thanassi Karageorgiou/Museum of the Moving Image (bottom)


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