Sesame Street: 50 Years and Still Sunny

Airs Wednesday, March 11 at 8 p.m

cast at holiday table
Cast of Season 49 at Holiday Table.
Photo by Richard Termine

SESAME STREET: 50 YEARS & STILL SUNNY! is a lively, entertaining and emotionally engaging new documentary special brimming over with music, laughter, tears, celebrity appearances and locally generated viewer content that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the iconic PBS KIDS children’s series. Sesame Street is produced by Sesame Workshop, a separate, independent, nonprofit educational organization. Hosted by seven-time Grammy Award winner Gloria Estefan, SESAME STREET: 50 YEARS & STILL SUNNY! is part of special programming premiering on Southern Oregon PBS, Wednesday, March 11 at 8 p.m.

Featuring interviews with Jodie Foster, Itzhak Perlman, LL Cool J, filmmaker Ken Burns, PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger and Jeffrey D. Dunn, President and CEO of Sesame Workshop, the program also includes interviews with many of the award-winning writers and puppeteers who brought the beloved characters from the series to life.

“PBS is thrilled to present this Sesame Street documentary special,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, Children’s Media & Education, PBS. “For 50 years, Sesame Street has been imparting invaluable lessons as a shining example of high-quality, educational children’s television. SESAME STREET: 50 YEARS & STILL SUNNY! is a warm and welcome reminder of how the series has touched the lives of viewers of all ages for decades.”

Early cast photo.
Photo by Robert Fuhring.

Filled with video clips of Sesame Street’s most unforgettable moments, the program explores how the groundbreaking children’s series captured lightning in a bottle and examines its significant and lasting impact on families across America. The program also features heartfelt testimonials from viewers, captured by PBS member stations, about the influence of Sesame Street on their lives.

When it premiered on November 10, 1969, Sesame Street provided educational programming and entertainment unlike any other children’s television show. Initially broadcast on more than 180 public television stations, the program introduced audiences to human characters, often children themselves, who interacted with Jim Henson’s Muppets. Characters like Maria and Gordon, Mr. Hooper, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie were soon watched by viewers worldwide.

Mr. Hooper with Bert and Ernie
Mr. Hooper with Bert and Ernie.
Sesame Street Workshop

Throughout the years, the award-winning and critically acclaimed series has remained experimental, each year researching what issues are impacting kids and adapting to the various cultural and social trends of the time.

PBS special programming invites viewers to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front-row seats to world-class drama and performances. Viewer contributions are an important source for PBS funding, making PBS programs possible. PBS and public television stations offer all Americans from every walk of life the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content.

About Gloria Estefan

Gloria Estefan is a seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer, actress, songwriter, author of two New York Times best-selling children’s books, philanthropist and humanitarian. She is considered one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved performers and one of the most successful crossover artists in Latin music history, having received recognition for her achievements as an international superstar in both the Latin and non-Hispanic entertainment industries.

She has achieved worldwide sales of over 100 million records over the course of her legendary career and 38 #1 hits across the Billboard charts. Her iconic hits, which include “Conga,” “Turn the Beat Around,” “Get on Your Feet” and Spanish-language chart-toppers “Con Los Años Que Me Quedan” and “Mi Tierra,” have made an indelible impression on generations of music fans. “Hotel Nacional,” from her album Miss Little Havana (2011), made Gloria the first female artist to debut a song at #1 on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart.

In 2015, President Obama honored both Gloria and husband Emilio with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the first time in history this award was bestowed upon a couple. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor and is presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

In 2017, Gloria was the first Cuban-American singer-songwriter to receive the Kennedy Center Honors, which spotlight the extraordinary careers of artists whose talent and ingenuity have enriched and shaped cultural life in America. Kennedy Center Honors recipients are recognized for their lifelong contributions to the performing arts. Most recently, Gloria was honored with the Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts, awarded by the King and Ministry of Culture of Spain to individuals excelling in artistic or cultural creation, and to those who have provided valuable services in the promotion of art and culture and conservation of artistic heritage.

In 2018, the Library of Congress honored Gloria and Emilio with the prestigious Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

The Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical On Your Feet! is based on the lives and music of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, who are executive producers. It is the story of two people who — through an unwavering dedication to one another and their pursuit of the American dream — showcased their talent, their music and their heritage to the world in a remarkable rise to global superstardom. The musical is set to Gloria’s chart-topping, worldwide smash hits, with one new original song written by Gloria and Emily Estefan, Emilio and Gloria’s daughter. On Your Feet! has received rave critical reviews, Outer Critics Circle Awards and Drama League Awards, and is going global with touring productions in the U.S., Holland and England.

Gloria and Emilio are successful entrepreneurs who own and operate several businesses, including a globally recognized music publishing company and a hospitality division that includes various restaurants: Estefan Kitchen in Miami Design District, Larios on the Beach on South Beach, Bongos Cuban Café in Disney Springs Orlando and Estefan Kitchen Express. Their hospitality portfolio also includes two hotels, the Cardozo Hotel on South Beach and Costa d’Este Beach Resort in Vero Beach, Florida. The Estefans are also the first Latin couple to own a minority share in the Miami Dolphins, a major franchise in the NFL.

Gloria sits on the Board of Trustees for the University of Miami. She has received countless awards and honors, including an Oscar nomination for the song “Music of My Heart,” a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, an American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement, an induction into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame, an Ellis Island Medal of Honor, a Humanitarian Award from St. Jude Hospital for Children, a National Artistic Achievement Award from Congress and a presidential appointment as a public member of the U.S. delegation to the 47th General Assembly of the United Nations, among others.

She is also the founder of the Gloria Estefan Foundation, whose mission is to support charitable programs for disadvantaged children and empower young people through education and opportunity. The Foundation also supports spinal cord research through the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

Gloria Estefan holds a B.A. in Psychology, with a minor in French, from the University of Miami. She has been awarded with honorary doctoral degrees in music from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and the University of Miami, along with an honorary law degree from Barry University.