'Goodness and humor' celebrated as 'Sesame Street' turns 50

This image released by HBO shows the cast of "Sesame Street" during a celebration of their 50th season of the popular children's TV show. This first episode of “Sesame Street” aired in the fall of 1969.

LINCOLN — It’s an event 50 years in the making as “Sesame Street” commemorates its 50th anniversary.

Celebrate the world’s most iconic street with all of its furry Muppet friends and special guests when “Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Celebration” premieres at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, on NET.

This star-studded primetime special is hosted by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and will re-imagine classic segments and songs like “People in Your Neighborhood” and “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”

“Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Celebration” includes cameos from rarely-seen characters like Roosevelt Franklin and Kermit the Frog, and visits from celebrity guests Whoopi Goldberg, Patti LaBelle, Elvis Costello, Meghan Trainor, Sterling K. Brown, Norah Jones, Nile Rodgers and Itzhak Perlman.

Nearly every human cast member returns, too: Bob McGrath (Bob), Sonia Manzano (Maria), Emilio Delgado (Luis), Loretta Long (Susan), Roscoe Orman (Gordon), Linda Bove (Linda), Alison Bartlett (Gina), Nitya Vidyasagar (Leela) and Olamide Faison (Miles).

Legendary puppeteers Fran Brill and Caroll Spinney and current cast members Alan Muraoka (Alan), Suki Lopez (Nina) and Chris Lawrence Knowings (Chris) also appear in the special.

“Sesame Street” got its start at the height of the civil rights movement and the war on poverty, in answer to a simple but powerful question: could television help prepare less advantaged children for school? In 1969, the show’s founders tapped researchers, entertainers and other visionaries to create a “street” like no other, where colorful monsters, humans and even grouches lived side by side.

“Sesame Street” content continues to be available to PBS KIDS viewers daily on local PBS stations, the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and anytime via the free PBS KIDS Video app.

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