Hundreds of celebrities have appeared as themselves on Sesame Street, but plenty of popular fictional characters have made cameos as well. Here are some of our favorites, from R2-D2 to GOB Bluth (well, kind of).
Back in 1980, Big Bird saw a flying saucer touch down, but none of the adults believed him. Naturally, once their backs are turned, C-3PO and R2-D2 strolled on by. They’d come to Sesame Street to deliver a holographic message to Oscar from Lothar the Grouch. The important message: “Get Lost!” The droids stuck around for two episodes, playing games and singing songs. And then R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.
In the first season of Sesame Street, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV. In another, Superman battled a giant chimp. Batman and Robin took a break from chasing the Joker to talk about safely crossing the street safely, and Superman explained why S is his favorite letter.
In 1995, Telly and Big Bird hosted their own cable access show, Telly’s Town, a parody of Saturday Night Live’s “Wayne’s World.” While presenting music videos, they received several telegrams, which were delivered by Wayne Campbell himself. Before each one, Wayne became teary eyed at the beauty of the act of reading, and the episode culminates with Wayne, Telly, Slimey the worm, and a monster playing the Sesame Street theme song on tubas. No, really.
Back in 1976, Margaret Hamilton reprised her role as the Wicked Witch of the West. She was flying over Sesame Street when she lost her broom. The broom was found by David, who refused to hand it over for fear of what the witch might do with it. The Wicked Witch responded by making it rain inside Hooper’s Store and threatening to turn Big Bird into a feather duster. After many frightened children, angry parents, and strongly-worded letters, the Children’s Television Workshop decided not to re-air the episode.
In the second season of Sesame Street, the cast of Bonanza appeared in several inserts to teach kids how to count to 20, subtract horses and other important lessons. Not to be outdone, a few years later Richie Cunningham and Arthur Fonzarelli from Happy Days filled a similar role by filming inserts about the alphabet and dental hygiene. And I’m sure it was all worth it just to hear The Fonz say “A!”
According to Director of Research Dr. Lewis Bernstein, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In was a strong influence on the early days of Sesame Street. So it’s no surprise that several Laugh-In characters dropped by Sesame, including Arte Johnson’s German soldier, Lily Tomlin’s Edith Anne and Ernestine the telephone operator, and Ruth Buzzi’s purse-wielding Gladys Ormphby.
Continuing the tradition, some SCTV characters have appeared on Sesame Street, including John Candy’s Yosh Shmenge, Martin Short’s Ed Grimley, and Andrea Martin’s Wanda Falbo (who appeared in several inserts as “The Word Fairy”).
When Pixar was first getting its feet wet in the world of making-better-computer-animation-than-anyone, they trained animators by assigning them short films starring Luxo and Luxo, Jr., the living desk lamps seen in the intro of each Pixar movie. These short films, which taught lessons like light-and-heavy, up-and-down, and front-and-back, were featured on Sesame Street long before anyone had heard of Toy Story. So maybe this isn’t as much of a case of Pixar characters appearing on Sesame Street as Sesame Street characters appearing in Pixar films.
And we’ll end with Will Arnett’s Max the Magician, who appeared on Sesame Street in 2008 and was remarkably similar to the character he played on Arrested Development, GOB Bluth. Love his theme music.
Come back tomorrow for another round-up of celebrity cameos, featuring Ralph Nader and the Micro Machines Guy.
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