9 Muppets Kicked Off Sesame Street
By Joe Hennes
In over four decades, Sesame Street has featured over 1,000 characters. Although we'll always have mainstays like Big Bird, Elmo, Bert and Ernie, many Muppets have been forgotten or deemed unnecessary. Here are a few Sesame Street residents who were evicted.
1. Roosevelt Franklin
Perhaps the most famous of the retired Sesame Street Muppets is Roosevelt Franklin. Originally voiced by Matt Robinson, who portrayed the first Gordon on Sesame Street, Roosevelt was an African-American Muppet who had his own school (named Roosevelt Franklin Elementary School). He often taught the class important lessons about things such as the geography of Africa and how to avoid drinking poison.
Parents wrote to the Children's Television Workshop to complain that Roosevelt was a negative stereotype of African-American children, citing his rowdy nature and the fact that his classes closely resembled after-school detention. Roosevelt only lasted from 1970-1975, but he has appeared in many Sesame Street books.
2. Harvey Kneeslapper
3. Professor Hastings
4. Don Music
5. Buddy & Jim
In the first season of Sesame Street, two bumbling humans named Buddy and Jim (played by Brandon Maggart and James Catusi) appeared as "a walking Polish joke" (at least that's what Time called them). They repeatedly failed at simple tasks: they'd hammer a backwards nail into the wall, or play checkers with backwards chairs (I think you're starting to see the pattern here). The long-standing rumor is that the actors who played Buddy and Jim took their act on the road to make a few extra bucks, but neglected to ask for permission to use the Sesame Street scripts. By season two, they were replaced by Larry and Phyllis (played by real-life couple Alan Arkin and Barbara Dana). But parents hated Larry and Phyllis, and a myriad of angry letters forced Sesame Street to replace them with Wally and Ralph (played by Joe Ponazecki and Paul Rice). A weak copy of the Buddy and Jim team, Wally and Ralph lasted just one season, and Sesame Street abandoned the human comedy duo format altogether.
6. Bruno the Trashman
7. "Around the Corner"
Then there was the time an entire section of Sesame Street was shuttered. The cul-de-sac known as "Around the Corner" was introduced in 1993, and featured a ritzy hotel, jazz club, thrift store, dance studio, park, and subway station. The Around the Corner locations stuck around for five years, but research showed that kids were confused about having to look to the right to see more of the Street. The alleyway was abandoned, as were all the characters who worked at the aforementioned establishments. The alley now serves as a parking spot for Oscar's Sloppy Jalopy.
8 & 9. Kermit the Frog & Herbert Birdsfoot
Yes, that Kermit the Frog. Jim Henson knew Kermit was going to be his trademark character for a long time to come, so after the first season of Sesame Street, Henson "retired" Kermit from the show. At the time, Kermit was known for giving lectures on Sesame Street about letters, numbers and basic concepts. He was replaced by Herbert Birdsfoot, an accountant-looking Muppet whose nerdiness was usually offset by his lovable assistant, Grover. As we all know, it wasn't so easy to keep Kermit away from the Street, and he returned to the show for the third season and has made occasional appearances over the years. Herb was phased out by season five.