Monday, June 16, 2008

Email - Word Origin

Reinvent, Reuse, Recycle
By Anu Garg

Anu Garg is the founder of, an online community of word lovers in 200 countries. He has authored three books on the origins of words. In this new column, "On Words With Anu Garg," he will explore the origins and metamorphoses of words throughout history, from brand-new words (such as locavore -- one who prefers to eat locally sourced food) to words that have been reconditioned, retooled and overhauled so much that they no longer resemble what they were when they rolled off the assembly line of the language.

If you were asked to guess when the word e-mail was coined, chances are you'd say perhaps a couple of decades back. Would it surprise you to learn that the first use of the word is recorded from around the time of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)? Clearly, Emerson didn't use e-mail to send his manuscripts to his publisher. In fact, he couldn't even call his editor to ask when his next book was coming out -- there was no commercial telephone service then. In any case, if he missed e-mail, we can safely assume he didn't miss spam.

What was e-mail doing at the time when there were no computers, telephones or even promises of large sums of Nigerian loot? Well, the answer is that it was a different type of e-mail. That e-mail meant enamel, as in the glossy paint applied to metal, pottery, etc. In French, the word émailler still means "to enamel," not to send out a message using electronic mail. The word mail in electronic mail is of Germanic origin, meaning a bag.

The word chainmail is even older, from the 1820s. The word referred to the body armor made of interlocking links, not the e-mails circulating old jokes. The word mail in chainmail means one of the rings of which armor was made, and is of Latinate origin.

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The 26 letters of the English alphabet can yield billions of combinations, yet we still bump into words that appear to be reincarnations. Sometimes we recycle an old word for new purposes, sometimes we coin a word not knowing that a word with the same spelling existed earlier. I often hear from people who believe they have just coined a catchy word: e-dress for e-mail address, until I ask them to Google it. And sometimes words that may look alike actually have different origins.

With the start of the Harry Potter mania in 1997, a new word entered the popular culture: muggle. In the Potterworld, a muggle is an ordinary person, one with no magical powers. By extension, we use the word to indicate someone lacking a particular skill; one, who doesn't have a special ability, a novice, one outside a field, one uninitiated in a field. Before J.K. Rowling made "muggle" a household word, it has had nearly as many lives as a black cat. The Oxford English Dictionary shows the first citation for this word is from the 13th century, and defines it as "a tail resembling that of a fish." Since then it has been used to describe a young woman, a sweetheart and later marijuana. Over the years many writers (including Lewis Carroll) have used the word Muggle as a name for their characters, it's just that with the popularity of the "Harry Potter" books it became better known.

When did the words google, yahoo and pixilated first appear in English? The last few decades? Here are the years of the first known citations for these words: google (1907), yahoo (1726) and pixilated (1848). Welcome back to the future.

What bugs you about language? Would you like to send Anu Garg your comments on this column? Visit

Saturday, June 14, 2008

What happened to Linda?

Linda is a librarian who appeared on Sesame Street from 1972 to 2003. Linda was introduced on the show in Episode 0326, which aired in January 1972.

Linda is deaf, as is her performer. As a deaf character, Linda allowed the producers of Sesame Street to teach viewers about sign language and address issues faced by deaf people.

Linda and Bob were very close, and a romantic relationship between the two was implied at various times. Linda was the original owner of Barkley the dog.

Linda no longer appears on the show, except in rare use of archive segments, but she is still mentioned in Sesame Street Magazine.


Linda Bove

Linda Bove (b. November 30, 1945) is a deaf actress who played Linda on Sesame Street from 1972 to 2003.

Born in Garfield, New Jersey, Bove graduated from the New Jersey School for the Deaf, and, in 1968, she received her bachelor's degree in library science from Gallaudet University, the first school for the advanced education of the deaf and hard-of-hearing. She soon detoured into the acting profession, however, as she was recruited by the recently formed National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD). She performed with the troupe in Songs from Milkwood and Moliere's Sganarelle, and made her Broadway debut with the two shows in 1970. That same year, she married fellow deaf performer Ed Waterstreet.

Bove also accompanied the National Theatre of the Deaf in their visits to Sesame Street, as a member of the troupe. She subsequently made her debut as a character in her own right, a librarian named Linda, in Episode 0326, which aired in January 1972. She appeared sporadically in the early seasons, with Children's Television Workshop describing her as a "frequent guest," until 1979, when she was featured "on a more regular basis." [1]

As the only non-hearing performer on the series, Linda Bove found that the staff writers were initially unsure of how to write for her:

When I joined the cast I found the writers would write about 'How would a deaf person do this?' 'How does a deaf person do that?' And it was just related to my deafness and it didn't feel like they were treating me as a person. I found my character one-dimensional and kind of boring. It showed how brave a deaf person was to do this and that in everday life. I said it was no big deal. I have a sense of humor; why don't you show that? I can be angry over something. Show that I can have a relationship with another person. Maybe a love relationship with Bob. It's not perfect, but... We do have misunderstandings over sign language, make fun of it, and show the funny side of it. It's OK.
In addition to demonstrating to viewers that deaf people were much like everyone else, Bove used American Sign Language to communicate with others, teaching it to children at home. She carried the latter over into several Sesame Street books, teaching how to sign words and letters in Sesame Street Sign Language ABC with Linda Bove, Sign Language Fun, and a series of sign language pages for The Sesame Street Treasury, developed with the NTD. Remaining with Sesame Street through 2003, Bove holds the honor of the longest recurring role in television history for a disabled person.

Linda Bove's other TV credits include a recurring role on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow in 1973, as Melissa Hayley Weldon, and a guest spot on Happy Days, playing the title character in the 1980 episode "Allison," a deaf woman with whom Fonzie falls in love. That same year, she understudied the leading role of Sarah Norman in the Broadway play Children of a Lesser God, the acclaimed story of a speech teacher who romances an independent deaf woman. Bove starred in the role at the National Theater in 1981, and appeared in the 1986 film version, in a small role as successful economist Marion Loesser. Other projects have varied from children's videos (translating the Land Before Time series into sign language) to the CD-Rom series Paws Signs Stories, as the costumed character Paws the Dog.

In recent decades, Bove has been actively involved in the Non-Traditional Casting Project, a non-profit organization encouraging the integration of different ethnicities and people with disabilities in theatre, film, and television. In 1991, with husband Ed Waterstreet, she co-founded DeafWest Theater, a Los Angeles based sign language theatre. In 2003, DeafWest Theatre produced their adaptation of the Huckleberry Finn musical Big River, combining sign language and deaf actors with hearing performers acting as on-stage "voices." Bove served as American Sign Language master, seeing that the signing maintained the flavor of Mark Twain's words, and played Miss Watson and others in the 2005 tour. The same year, she starred in the stage debut of the drama Open Window.

What happened to Luis?

Luis came to Sesame Street in 1971, and was the first human addition to the original cast. He is a dreamer who follows his heart, and is also an aspiring writer. He sings, plays the guitar, and teaches people about Hispanic culture and language.

A great handyman, Luis runs the Fix-It Shop, specializing in toaster repair. Over the years, many celebrities have dropped off their toasters for repair, including Robert Redford and Robert DeNiro.

Luis’s relationship with Maria is a positive example of love, romance, and marriage. The couple began dating during Season 19 in 1988, and their courtship and marriage was a year-long event. Their daughter, Gabi, arrived in Season 20.

Emilio Delgado
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Emilio Delgado (born May 8, 1940 in Calexico, California) is a Mexican-American actor. He is best known for his long-running role as Luis, the friendly Latino Fix-it Shop owner, on the children's television series Sesame Street. Delgado joined the cast of Sesame Street in 1971. He was born in Calexico, California and began his professional career in Los Angeles in 1968. Delgado lives in New York City with his wife Carol.

In Los Angeles, he was a company member of Inner City Rep, The Group Repertory, and LA Repertory. Some of his New York theatre credits include The San Diego Street Padres (INTAR), Floating Home (HExTC), Boxing 2000 (Richard Maxwell NYC Players), Dismiss All the Poets (New York Fringe Festival 2002), Nilo Cruz's A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ), Dinosaurios (IATI) and Night Over Taos (INTAR) . Famous for doing ba-limp in many plays and skits.

Emilio can easily claim the longest running part for a Mexican-American actor in a continuing television series. His portrayal of Luis has garnered him universal acclaim and has charmed and inspired viewers for over three decades. He has also performed in live shows throughout his Sesame Street career, interacting and singing the songs of Sesame Street, entertaining thousands of children and families.

On Sesame Street, his character, Luis, was the one of the second human additions to the original cast. Luis was a handyman and an aspiring writer. Luis, now married to Maria, teaches viewers about Hispanic culture and language.

His most recent television appearances include Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent' and "Law & Order: SVU". He was a regular cast member of Lou Grant and also appeared in episodes of Police Story, Hawaii Five-0, Quincy, and Cosby.


Emilio Delgado (Luis) grew up on the border in California, with aspirations of becoming an actor, New York was the furthest thing from Emilio's mind. Little did he know that one of the best jobs an actor could have was 'in the cards' for him a few years down the road; playing the part of "Luis" on Sesame Street! The privilege of playing "Luis" for the last 36 years has been the experience of portraying a Latino in a positive characterization, and to be part of the bilingual and bicultural aspects of the show.
Knowing that his performance over the years has enriched the lives of so many children has given Emilio a deep sense of accomplishment. Being a vital part of the show has given him the opportunity to enrich his own life by traveling extensively to nearly every state. And to have the good fortune to use his talent for acting, comedy and music has been most gratifying to him, surpassed only by the joy of working with so many talented and wonderful people on Sesame Street.

Over the years, Emilio has received many awards for his contributions to the show. In addition to "Luis," Emilio has performed in a variety of film, television and theatre roles across the country. He has also packed concert halls across America singing and performing songs from Sesame Street and the interaction with children and their families has been a big adventure! Emilio continues in the role of "Luis," happily following that adventure on the longest "Street" in the world.

What happened to Bob?

Bob Johnson is a music teacher who lives on Sesame Street.[1] He has been on Sesame Street since the premiere episode. His many songs on the show include "The People in Your Neighborhood," "Believe in Yourself" and "I've Got Two". An affable and low-keyed fellow, Bob was introduced as Gordon and Susan's neighbor, and had a close, semi-romantic friendship with Linda for many years (having previously resisted the advances of Molly the Mail Lady).

While Gordon and Susan (and to some extent, Maria and Luis) function largely as surrogate parents to the Muppet characters, Bob is more of a surrogate teacher, seldom assuming a disciplinary role. He lives in an apartment above Hooper's Store. Known relatives include Uncle Wally and his deaf niece named Samara. His birthday is August 15.

Bob McGrath

Robert Emmet "Bob" McGrath (born June 13, 1932) is an American singer and actor who worked with Mitch Miller then went on to play the human character "Bob" on Sesame Street. This character once had a long-lost brother named Minneapolis, an Indiana Jones-like action hero (Jeff Goldblum) who took him on a search for the golden cabbage of "Snuffertiti" with Big Bird and Snuffleupagus. They went to Snuffy's cave.

He was born in Ottawa, Illinois. With Susan, played by Loretta Long, Bob has been the longest lasting human character, and one of the most popular, on that show, leading to a Noggin segment proclaiming "the four decades of Bob" when promoting Sesame Street on that network.

McGrath is a 1954 graduate of the University of Michigan's School of Music. While attending Michigan, he was a member of the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club.

For over 30 years, McGrath has been a regular fixture on Telemiracle, a Saskatchewan telethon. On March 3, 2006 McGrath was awarded the Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan for this work by the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan (provincial representative of Queen Elizabeth II).[1]

McGrath was named for Irish patriot Robert Emmet. He and his wife Ann have five children together, as well as five granddaughters and two grandsons. The couple reside in Teaneck, New Jersey.[2][3]


Bob McGrath (Bob) is an original cast member of Sesame Street. An accomplished singer with seven children's albums to his credit, he performs family pop concerts and has appeared with more than 100 symphony orchestras in the U.S. and Canada.

McGrath has authored eight books including Uh-Oh Gotta Go (on potty training) and Oops, Excuse Me Please (on manners). He co-authored an educational music curriculum book for Alfred Publishing Co. called Music For Fun, used by teachers from kindergarten to second grade. His Rhythm Band Set produced by Rhythm Band Instruments is a Parent's Choice Award winner. McGrath co-authored Curriculum Connections with Educational Activities, a professional development video and CD for teachers of Pre-K and 1st grade, using music to develop six literacy skills. He has a recording company called Bob's Kids Music, which encompasses his seven albums. The Baby Record and Sing Me a Story have won both Parents Choice Awards and The Children's Music Web Award 2002. McGrath released his seventh CD, Christmas Sing Along this past season with Mike Renzi, musical director of Sesame Street.
As an advocate for children, McGrath has participated for almost 35 years in telethons and other fundraising events and was recently honored as a lifetime member by the Variety Children's Charity in British Columbia, and was inducted into the 2002 Silver Circle of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He is the recipient of the American Eagle Award by the National Music Council, the Fame Award and a Lowell Mason Fellow by the National Association of Music Educators for furthering the cause of music education, the 2006 Saskatchewan Centennial Award for outstanding contributions to the province of Saskatchewan, and recently at the 60th Anniversary of the Midwest Clinic, the International Band and Orchestra Conference, was awarded the Medal of Honor, their highest honor in recognition for his contributions to music education throughout his career. He has been chairperson of National UNICEF Day, hosted World Children's Day at the United Nations and served as host and artistic director for the International Children's Festival at Wolf Trap for over 15 years.

On Sesame Street, he plays a music teacher. McGrath received his Bachelors degree in Music from the Univ. of Michigan, and a Masters in Music from the Manhattan School of Music. He has five children, and eight grandchildren. You can visit him at

Maria first appeared on Sesame Street in 1971 and has been a staple of the series ever since. Maria Figueroa arrived on Sesame Street as a Puerto Rican teenager, taking a job at the Sesame Street Library. The library was later converted into the Fix-It Shop, where Maria was hired as Luis' helper. Luis promoted her to full partner in Episode 1563.

Maria often mediates disputes amongst the Muppet characters but is sometimes more easily flustered by them than, say, Susan. She frequently serves as the target of the Amazing Mumford's magic and the cynical wisecracks of Oscar the Grouch, who has been known to address her with the nickname "Skinny."

For a number of seasons, Maria also appeared regularly in pantomime skits as Charlie Chaplin.

Although she held a romantic relationship with David for a time in the 1970s, she married Luis in 1988, becoming Maria Rodriguez. Her mother came over from Puerto Rico for the ceremony. Later, Maria's pregnancy became a storyline on the show, and Maria and Luis had a daughter, Gabi, in 1989.

For several years, Maria and Luis ran the Fix-It Shop together, where they repaired an assortment of items, including a vast number of toasters. In 2002 they converted the store to the Mail It Shop, only to revert it back to the Fix-It Shop in 2006.

Maria and her Sesame Street friends visited her family in Puerto Rico in 1979, for the first few episodes of Season 11.

Sonia Manzano

Sonia Manzano (born December 6, 1950) is an American actress and writer. She is best known for playing Maria on Sesame Street since 1970. She also licenses her image to promote items of baby clothes and plates in Hispanic America.

Sonia Manzano is a first-generation American of Latino descent who has affected the lives of millions of parent's and children since the 1970s, when she was offered an opportunity play "Maria" on Sesame Street.
Sonia was raised in the South Bronx where her involvement in the arts was inspired by teachers who encouraged her to audition for the High School of Performing Arts. She was accepted there and began her career as an actress.

A scholarship took her to Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and in her junior year, she came to New York to star in the original production of the off-Broadway show "Godspell." Within a year Sonia joined the production of "Sesame Street" where she eventually began writing scripts. Sonia has won 15 Emmy Awards in that capacity.

Sonia has performed on the New York stage, in the critically acclaimed theater pieces "Vagina Monologues" and "The Exonerated." She has written for the Peabody Award winning children's series, "Little Bill," and has written a parenting column for the Sesame Workshop web site called "Talking Outloud" which can be visited at

Sonia's children's book, "No Dogs Allowed," published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing in 2004, was one of five books selected by the General Mills initiative "Spoonfuls of Stories." As part of that effort, Sonia worked with General Mills and its nonprofit partner, First Book, to encourage children to read and to help get books to children across the country. In the fall of 2005, General Mills gave away a total of one million copies of "No Dogs Allowed."

Sonia has received awards from the Association of Hispanic Arts, The Congressional Hispanic Caucus in Washington DC, The National Hispanic Media Coalition, The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families and Hispanic Heritage Award for Education in 2003. She received an honorary doctorate in fine arts from Nortre Dame University in 2005. Closer to home she is proud to have been inducted into the Bronx Hall of Fame in 2004.

She was twice nominated for an Emmy Award as Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series. She has served on the March of Dimes Board, and the board of the George Foster Peabody Awards and the board of Symphony Space, well known for it's Literary Shorts series on NPR.

Manzano has a licensing company called "The Three Amigas."

A second children's book "A Box Full of Kittens" will be out in June 2007. Sonia resides in the Upper West Side with her husband and daughter and is currently working on a memoir

What happened to Susan?

Loretta Long (b. June 3, 1940), or Dr. Loretta Long Ph.D., is an actress, singer, and educator who has played Susan on Sesame Street since the show's debut. In the earliest seasons, she also lent her voice to Muppet segments, including Roosevelt Franklin's Mother and the mother in "Five People in My Family"), amongst others.

Born in Paw Paw, Michigan, Long's father was a welder and her mother worked for Mary Kay Cosmetics. Her ambitious parents enabled her to attend Western Michigan University, where she earned an undergraduate degree in education and took theater classes on the side. After graduation, she moved to New York City, where she continued to take acting classes while teaching English as a substitute in the city and Yonkers. [1]

Long began her television career in 1967 on the variety series Soul!, which was produced at the New York public television station WNET. The series combined musical variety with frank talk on political and social issues affecting African-Americans, and played host to such performers as Stevie Wonder and Patti LaBelle.

In 1969, Long found Soul! set decorator Charles Rosen preparing a model of a street, and learned it was for a planned educational children's show. He encouraged Long to audition. She recalled the experience:

So, I never could get Charlie Rosen to admit it, but he left out an essential piece of information. They wanted a Joan Baez-type folk guitar player. ...I looked more like Angela Davis than I looked like Joan Baez... I had big hair, short skirt, and show tunes. Well, I show up, and they said, 'Where's your guitar?' I said, "What guitar?' They said, 'Everybody here plays the guitar, so stand over there.'
Now, see, I always tell kids these are defining moments in your life. See, I could have got huffy and puffy and went back up to the Bronx, but I came all the way downtown in a cab to keep my Afro together, so I stood over there. So, I waited and waited and waited, and they were getting ready to leave. And I said, 'Uh, could I give my music to the piano player so I can sing for you?' They said, 'We didn't hire a piano player. Everybody here plays the guitar.' And I said, 'What?! But I came to sing for you.' So, very unenthusiastic, they said, 'OK, so sing.' So my audition was I laid my music down... I started patting my foot, clapping my hands... [singing] 'I'm a little teapot, short and stout, here is my handle here is my spout.' And I looked right at the camera, and I said, 'Everybody sing.' And the little kids in the daycare, when they played the tape--I said, 'Everybody sing, they all stood up and started to sing. So that--I have some 4-year-olds to thank for a career. [2]

While playing Susan on Sesame Street, Long also commuted to the University of Massachussetts on her days off, pursuing a doctorate in Urban Education. She received the Ph.D. in 1973, with a dissertation specifically examining the educational model used on the TV series, "Sesame Street": A Space Age Approach to Education for Space Age Kids.[3] She also recorded several albums under the "Susan" label. As the seasons progressed, Long's portrayal of Susan changed, affected by the scripts and complaints from NOW, so she was no longer merely a dispenser of milk and cookies, but playing a working woman as well as a wife.

Outside of Sesame Street, Long has taught courses and served as a guest lecturer on such issues as women in the media and the relationship between children and television:

I think TV is like fire. It's good when it keeps you warm and bad if it burns your house down. TV is very popular and you need to be aware of what your children are watching. Don't turn it on because you are busy. I would like to see much less violence on TV cartoons; that really affects kids. But on the other hand, it can be a wonderful learning tool, as with Sesame Street.[4]

As a performer, Long has appeared in summer stock versions of Guys and Dolls and Sweet Charity and sung in The Vaudeville '80 tour. In film, she appeared in both Sesame Street movies, Follow That Bird and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, and had uncredited parts in Cotton Comes to Harlem, Husbands, and The Out of Towners. TV appearances, often accompanied by Big Bird, include The Dick Cavett Show, The Flip Wilson Show, You Bet Your Life, and The Today Show.

Susan has seen a lot of sunny days on Sesame Street--3,900 of them to be exact! In her 31 years on the show she has touched the hearts and minds of millions.

Before that, she appeared on the public television program Soul, and in summer stock productions of Guys and Dolls, Milk and Honey and Sweet Charity. She is a distinguished former schoolteacher with a doctoral degree from the University of Massachusetts. Dr. Long is a published author, visiting scholar and educational consultant. She plays Susan, Gordon's wife and Miles' mother. Over the years, her character has evolved from housewife to nurse to working mother.

Loretta Long, Ph.D., is one of the few original cast members still on the Street. We first met her character, Susan, in 1969 as the wife to Gordon and the maternal figure for Big Bird. Over the years, Susan's character has grown and grown.

"In the beginning, all I did was bake cookies," says Dr. Long. "I was tired of burning my apron!" So, the show's creators had Susan hang up her apron and return to a career as a public health nurse. This shift offered a positive model for moms--at home and in the office--and for children, too. "Having the traditional maternal figure go to work showed youngsters that women can be more than mothers," she adds.

In the show's seventeenth season, Susan made another big change. She and Gordon adopted a son, Miles, and their family became one of few adoptive families on television. Dr. Long recalls a favorite Sesame episode in which Miles learns that family is about more than blood relations. "What was especially poignant was that we showed Miles' insecurities about how he fit into the family," she says.

Although Dr. Long and Roscoe Orman (Gordon) are not family in real life, Dr. Long is much like the character she plays on TV. For one thing, she and Susan both grew up on a farm in Michigan. That's no coincidence, though, since she and the other original cast members wrote "biographies" for their characters. "I'm from a farm in Michigan, so I made Susan a Midwest country girl," says Dr. Long.

Susan has taught kids and Muppets their ABCs, 123s, and other important lessons. Similarly, Dr. Long, who earned her degree in Urban Education in 1973, was a teacher in the Detroit, Yonkers and New York City school systems, and continued to teach through her first season on Sesame Street. "I thought I was leaving the education business to get into show business!" she says with a smile. Fortunately, she found a way to do both! Dr. Long continues to educate and entertain kids as the author of a series of children's books (the newest one is Courtney's Birthday Party).

No matter where she goes, Dr. Long takes her Sesame Street life with her. "I always get stopped by kids. I love talking to them--though it has almost caused me to miss a few airplanes!" says Dr. Long. " I feel really blessed to do what I do."

What happened to David?

David appeared on Sesame Street from 1971 until 1989, as the second adult African-American male resident, after Gordon. A hip, upbeat individual, David was fond of eccentric hats and singing. He initially worked part-time at Hooper's Store while studying law. For several years, it was implied that David and Maria had a romantic relationship. However, later seasons would find Maria falling in love with and marrying Luis.

Following Mr. Hooper's death in 1983, David inherited the store and operated it with help from Petey and later Gina. David's family includes his sassy grandmother Harriet, who visited periodically. When Northern Calloway left the show in 1989, it was explained that David had moved away from Sesame Street to be with his grandmother, and ownership of the store was turned over to Mr. Handford.

Northern J. Calloway

Northern J. Calloway (January 22, 1948 – January 9, 1990) was an American actor who played David on Sesame Street from 1971 through 1989, and also voiced Muppet characters including Same Sound Brown.

His death was possibly the most tragic one of the Sesame Street cast. Jive talking hipster David was portrayed as Sesame Street's number one cool cat from 1971 until just before his death in 1989. Throughout his life the immensely talented Calloway would be subject to whispers involving the subject of legal issues, illness, drug addiction and madness.

Northern Calloway had a life long love for the theatre. A New Yorker, Calloway graduated from the School of Performing Arts and immediately found work with the Lincoln Center Repertory Company. Soon afterward Calloway had stints at Stratford Ontario's Shakespeare Festival and quickly found himself on the Broadway and off-Broadway stages. Even once he got his regular gig on Sesame Street, the theatre proved to be an essential part of Calloway's life. He appeared on the New York stage throughout the rest of his life in various productions.

Northern Calloway was hired in 1971 as the first "new" human character since Sesame Street's debut. His character, David, was created to be a positive older brother type character that might appeal to African American kids.

David was hip, talked in jive, and was more in tune to street life than the older black characters, Gordon and Susan.

However, what made David unique and a positive role model to urban children was that unlike the older boys that got involved in drugs and gangs in their neighbourhoods, David was not only studying in university to become a lawyer but he also held a part time job at Mr. Hooper's store...and STILL managed to be the coolest cat on Sesame Street.

Northern Calloway also voiced the jive talkin' rhyming Muppet "Same Sound Brown" which was sort of a Roosevelt Franklin knock off after the character was retired when Matt Robinson left the series. Eventually David was even dating the prettiest girl on the street, Spanish character Maria which was the first inter-racial relationship on children's television.

However, when Maria eventually married Luis in 1988, just prior to Calloway quietly leaving Sesame Street, viewers kind of wondered what was up.

What was up was that Northern Calloway was diagnosed earlier that year with stomach cancer. While he battled the disease for a little while on television, he was soon unable to continue work on Sesame Street and opted to be quietly written out of the series. However, Northern Calloway's battle with cancer ended in January of 1990, only months after he left Sesame Street.

Unfortunately, Calloway's family rushed him to the closest hospital that happened to be a psychiatric hospital, which created rumors that Calloway had died in an asylum. Tragically these rumors were believable due to an unexplained episode in Calloway's life ten years earlier.

In 1980 Nashville Tennessee police arrested a half naked Northern Calloway, who was wearing nothing but a Superman T-shirt, during a wild rampage in a quiet residential neighbourhood. Calloway had been in Nashville performing a Sesame Street themed stage production while staying at the home of the theatre's marketing director. Apparently, sometime during the evening of September 20th, Calloway had beat his host with a metal iron, causing her to suffer a head injury and broken ribs, before tearing off half naked to the streets. In his rampage Calloway managed to break a series of windows, as well as take the iron to a car. Police found him by following a trail of the actors blood, caused by cuts suffered by shattered glass, and Calloway was reported to the police as muttering strange phrases and trying to eat grass. As police and ambulance drivers attempted to strap the enraged Calloway to a stretcher he was reported to have screamed "I'm David of Sesame Street and they're trying to kill me." When finally being interviewed days later about his rampage, Calloway was quoted by the Nashville Tennessean as saying, "It will be a sad, sad thing for the children to hear about this. I can't remember a thing. I've never had a spell like this before." Calloway was transferred to Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute for further study. However, the strange story of Northern Calloway's insanity ends there. The woman whom he attacked lived and soon Calloway was not only out of the hospital but back on Sesame Street without the CTW batting an eyelash, and would play the role for another nine years without incident.

Obviously Northern Calloway's rampage was an isolated incident of temporary insanity and the story was quickly swept under the rug, allowing Northern Calloway to keep both his reputation and his career. However, those who remembered Calloway's night of madness were quick to jump over the actors legacy when they found out that during his death he was treated at a psychiatric hospital.

In reality Northern Calloway lost consciousness shortly after arriving at the psychiatric hospital and was immediately transported to the nearby Phelps Memorial Hospital where he died at age 41. Thankfully the stories of Northern Calloway's madness were only told in whispers and rumors, thus not tainting his memory. Instead he will always be remembered as the funky and friendly singing hipster.

However, it has been asked many times why Sesame Street never dealt with Northern Calloway's death in the same fashion as they did with Will Lee. The CTW felt that two major character deaths in a short span of years may be pushing the envelope a bit too much, thus it was explained that David had gone to live on his grandmother's farm to help her, but still owned Hooper's Store (which Mr. Hooper had willed to him) and managed it from afar while Gina ran the store.

The CTW would honour the memory of Northern Calloway in their own way. When Elmo began his solo adventures he was often accompanied by a little orange Muppet-like stuffed toy which he had named David. Elmo's favourite toy would be a tribute to Northern Calloway so that the name David would always be connected to Sesame Street.

The lives and the stories about these three Sesame Street actors only prove, once again, that there are stories to be told from all the actors that forge the path of our pop culture journey. Often, such as in the case of shows like Sesame Street, they are taken for granted for just "being there" instead of the stories of their lives and their careers being told. Hopefully these three talented and unique men will never be forgotten by the children that loved them, and the public that will never forget them. May their legacies live on, just as the Muppets that they played with still do.

Northern Calloway, Actor, 41, on Stage And 'Sesame Street'
NY Times January 13, 1990

LEAD: Northern J. Calloway, who played David, the proprietor of Mr. Hooper's store, on public television's ''Sesame Street,'' died Tuesday. He was 41 years old and lived in Ossining, N.Y.

Northern J. Calloway, who played David, the proprietor of Mr. Hooper's store, on public television's ''Sesame Street,'' died Tuesday. He was 41 years old and lived in Ossining, N.Y.

The Westchester County Medical Examiner's office said Mr. Calloway had been taken to a psychiatric facility, Stony Lodge Hospital, in Ossining, where he had lost consciousness shortly after his arrival. He was then taken to Phelps Memorial Hospital in North Tarrytown, N.Y., where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death has not been determined.

Mr. Calloway joined the cast of ''Sesame Street'' during its fourth season in 1972 and left it last year. He began his career in 1966 with the Lincoln Center Repertory Company just two days after graduating from the High School of Performing Arts in New York.

During the next season he appeared at the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, in ''A Midsummer Night's Dream'' and ''The Three Musketeers.'' On Broadway he was in ''The Me Nobody Knows'' and the Off-Broadway rock musical ''Salvation.''

Mr. Calloway appeared as the Leading Player in the Broadway hit ''Pippin,'' a role he also played in London and at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J.

He was also seen on Broadway in 1980 as the orderly in ''Whose Life Is It Anyway?'' with Mary Tyler Moore, and appeared as Louis Armstrong in the New Federal Theater's production of ''Louis'' in 1981.

Surviving are his mother, Bunnetta Calloway, and a brother, Gregory, both of Manhattan, and his sister, Connie Jackson, of Baltimore.

What happened to Mr Gordon?


Matt Robinson (Jan 1, 1937- August 5, 2002) was a writer, producer, and actor who originated the role of Gordon on Sesame Street, playing the part from 1969 to 1972. Robinson also created the character of Roosevelt Franklin, and performed Roosevelt's voice. [1]

Most people immediately identify bald African American actor Roscoe Orman, who has been playing Gordon since 1973, as the character. However, when Sesame Street first debuted in 1969 a very different Gordon appeared on television screens. Actor Matt Robinson played the fatherly school teacher as a tall man with a huge black pantheresque afro and huge assed mutton chops. Originally Gordon was the central character on Sesame Street who was your guide around the block. Gordon was both hip and professional as well as kind but a bit stern at times. However, Matt Robinson was far more important on the Sesame Street set than just playing the character of Gordon. Matt Robinson also worked as a writer and producer on the series and the majority of the ground breaking multicultural and racial politics that the early days of Sesame Street are famous for were a direct result of Matt Robinson's influence on the series.

Matt Robinson, who grew up on the streets of Philadelphia as a child, became well known throughout the 1960s for writing and producing black-orientated television dramas and public affair programs. His reputation gained the attention of the CTW when they formed in 1966, whose vision was to create a children's program that would speak to children of all different races and cultures, with special attention aimed towards the urban children and black kids which kids shows had never before been aimed towards them. Thus, Matt Robinson's work in television fit their vision. Robinson was originally hired by the CTW as only a producer and a writer but when they had a hard time finding the perfect actor to play fatherly Gordon Robinson, Matt Robinson stepped up to the plate.

Matt Robinson looked to the role of Gordon to make a difference to black children all over North America. He knew that one of the continuous problems for black children was a lack of positive black male role models in their lives and that they often lacked father figures. In the 1971 book All About Sesame Street, Robinson was quoted as saying, "somewhere around four and five a black kid is going to learn he's black. He's going to learn that's positive or negative. What I want to project is a positive image." As a result Robinson used a mixture of proper English and street slang so that black children could relate to him and he could create a more natural connection between him and the viewer. However, some of Robinson's political views often created conflict within the room of the writers. One famous account of this occurred when the CTW decided that Gordon's wife Susan was to go and get a job as a nurse. Robinson felt that another key problem in black neighbourhoods was the fact that women were in the workplace and not staying home to make sure their children were not getting into trouble, which was a direct contradiction to the 1970s feminist values that the CTW was beginning to incorporate into Sesame Street. As a result, when the episode aired, even on the screen Gordon's reluctance to accept Susan as a nurse managed to seep through.

Matt Robinson was also key in developing the first black influenced Muppets with Jim Henson. Robinson and Henson worked together on the Roosevelt Franklin sketches in the early 1970s with Robinson providing the voice for the Muppet. Roosevelt Franklin was a jive talking, scat singing Muppet who was kind of a child like cross between Ray Charles and James Brown. Other Muppets developed by Robinson and Henson were Baby Ray Francis, Mobley Mosey, and Hispanic Muppet A. B. Cito. Robinson's urban Muppet characters were featured on the album "The Year of Roosevelt Franklin," which not only contained songs about learning the alphabet, safety tips, the days of the week and the months of the year, but also songs about racial issues as well.

Robinson also penned the very first Sesame Street themed children's book titled Gordon of Sesame Street's Storybook.. The 1972 book contained four original children stories written by Robinson, as well as a cartoon caricature of him reading to children on the front cover.

Matt Robinson played the role of Gordon on television, stage, and in recordings for four years and gave the part up in 1972 to move to other things. However, Robinson occasionally still worked with the CTW up until 1974, primarily on Roosevelt Franklin material. With Gordon being such an important part of Sesame Street the CTW had no desire to retire the character with Robinson's departure and recast the character with actor Hal Miller for a single season and then, finally, with today's Gordon, Roscoe Orman. However, the CTW never recast a role again. As Orman explained it, children had a hard time dealing with cast changes of that type: "The kids who were on the show that first season would not accept me as Gordon. One day there's Hal Miller as Gordon and the next day there's this new guy who says he's Gordon... the kids, both on the show and at home... they just assume that we are that person we're playing."

After Sesame Street Matt Robinson continued in television - most notably as producer and/or contributing writer on Sanford and Son, Captain Kangaroo, and The Cosby Show. In 1982 Robinson was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease but managed to battle through it for twenty years, finally submitting to the disease in 2002. Although most generations of children that watched Sesame Street never saw Robinson as Gordon, Matt Robinson left his legacy on the series as a pioneering series dealing with race and multiculturalism that helped create a more tolerant world as children learnt racial diversity at a far younger age. Perhaps Robinson may not be the actor immediately identified as Gordon, but his vision made a difference.


Hal Miller, also known as Harold Miller, was the second actor to play Gordon on Sesame Street. He appeared on the show in Season 4 and Season 5, before passing on the role to Roscoe Orman.

Miller had previously performed on and off-Broadway in such stage plays as The Perfect Party, Narrow Road to the Deep North, and Twelfth Night. After Sesame Street, his film credits were limited to the independent film Distance, the sex comedy If You Don't Stop It... You'll Go Blind!!!, The Warriors (with Lynne Thigpen), and Born in Flames. TV credits include two appearances on Law & Order. In recent years, he has performed cabaret extensively in Europe and Southeast Asia.


Roscoe Orman (born June 11, 1944, in The Bronx, New York) is an American actor who plays Gordon Robinson on the television show Sesame Street. Orman joined the show in 1973, taking over as the third actor to play Gordon on the show (subsequent to Matt Robinson, 1969-1972, and Hal Miller, 1972-1973). The 38th season of Sesame Street marks Orman's 33rd as Gordon, a science teacher who is married to Susan and the father of Miles.

Orman was also featured in the blaxploitation film, Willie Dynamite in the eponymous lead role.

In September 2007, his children's book Ricky and Mobo was released.

Orman and his wife and daughter Cheyenne are residents of Montclair, New Jersey. His son, Miles Orman was on Sesame Street playing Gordon's son Miles Robinson from the mid-1980's into the early 1990's. Miles is a student at Marist College.

What happened to Mr Hooper?

Those of you who grew up with Sesame Street would remember Mr Hooper who owns the corner store. This is some nostalgia flooding back and I hope it brings back many happy memories

Harold Hooper (known almost universally as just Mr. Hooper) was a character on Sesame Street, played by Will Lee, who was the original proprietor of Mr. Hooper's Store, which still retains his name.

Mr. Hooper is Jewish, according to Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, when Bob tells him to have a Happy Hanukkah. In true Sesame Street fashion, his religion was irrelevant to most other plots, as characters' differences are generally irrelevant to plot. His heritage was suggested at in an episode in which Big Bird inquires about the languages that various members of the community can speak when Mr. Hooper reveals that he was taught to read, write and speak Yiddish at after-school religious instruction.

For unexplained reasons, Big Bird had trouble saying "Hooper", instead using various words that rhymed with it, such as "Looper" or "Crouper". This led to frequent retorts of "Hooper! Hooper!" from Mr. Hooper or the other adults whenever Big Bird mispronounced his surname.
When Lee suddenly died of a heart attack on December 7, 1982, it left the producers of Sesame Street, the Children's Television Workshop, with questions about how to acknowledge the death of one of the series' most visible actors. After considering a number of options, CTW decided to have the character of Mr. Hooper pass away as well, and use the episode to teach its young viewers about death as a natural part of life and that it is OK for everyone—children and adults alike—to grieve when someone they love dies. The cause of Mr. Hooper's death is not announced, and euphemisms to soften the blow of his absence (e.g., "passed away") are not used; the topic is dealt with directly.

The "Farewell, Mr. Hooper" episode (ep #1839) aired November 24, 1983 (Thanksgiving Day), so that parents and children could discuss about the content while watching, and was quickly selected by the Daytime Emmys as being one of the 10 most influential moments in daytime television history.

In the famous "Farewell Mr Hooper" episode, the adults on Sesame Street explain to Big Bird about Mr. Hooper's death.Big Bird makes a silly entrance onto the set, walking backwards with his head between his legs. When Gordon asks why he is walking like that, Big Bird gives the childishly inscrutable reason, "Because. Just because."

Later in the episode, Big Bird presents each adult on the show with a gift—a drawing he has made of each of them. The last drawing he has is of Mr. Hooper, and Big Bird is eager to give it to him. When Big Bird asks his adult friends to help find Mr. Hooper, they gently remind Big Bird that Mr. Hooper has died. Not understanding, Big Bird announces he will just wait for him to come back.

The adults pause, looking uncomfortable and sad. They then tearfully explain that when someone dies, they don't come back physically. Big Bird is dismayed, and the adults (all genuinely emotional) comfort him, explaining that they were lucky to have known and loved Mr. Hooper, and that they will always have their memories of him. It will never be the same without him, they say, but they will all help take care of Big Bird and life will continue on as normal.

Big Bird angrily demands to know why Mr. Hooper had to die, and no one has a ready answer. Finally Gordon figures out what to say: "Because. Just because." This is perhaps the only answer that could make sense to Big Bird, at least for now, and he sadly accepts it. He then—as he constantly has throughout the years—humorously, but glumly mispronounces Mr. Hooper's name once again, even in death ("Mr. Looper"), then Maria said, "That's Hooper, Big Bird. Hooper." And the adults and Big Bird embrace.

Big Bird's drawing of Mr. Hooper (in reality drawn by Big Bird's puppeteer, Caroll Spinney) hangs above his nest to this day, as was seen in the 2007 "Learn Along with Sesame Street" episode "You Can Ask." Interestingly, the segment in which the portrait is seen also deals with loss, as Big Bird had just "lost" a pet turtle

Initially, the producers had considered using flashbacks of Mr. Hooper in the episode. This was ultimately rejected because they thought that—given that most children are unable to comprehend the difference between flashbacks and new footage—it would give the impression that Mr. Hooper was actually still alive and thus confuse the intended audience.

The episode was later made into a book called "I'll Miss You, Mr. Hooper" by Norman Stiles, et al.

Also, a street skit made about a year later featured Big Bird, Maria, and David all reminiscing about him in good spirits. Big Bird showed off his drawing of him, and shots of him were shown as they continued to talk about him.

While Mr. Hooper's death is considered by most as a landmark in children's television, this wasn't the first death in a children's program. Upon the 1973 death of George Woodbridge, who played the titular character in the British series Inigo Pipkin, the opening episode of the third season of the show dealt with the character's passing. The series was renamed Pipkins, to reflect the change in cast.

Will Lee

Will Lee (August 6, 1908 – December 7, 1982) was an American actor who was known to many for playing the store proprietor Mr. Hooper on Sesame Street, from the show's debut in 1969 until his death.

Lee was born in Brooklyn, New York and began his career as a character actor on stage. He was a member of the Group Theater in the 1930s and appeared in Johnny Johnson, Night Music, Boy Meets Girl, The Time of Your Life (as Willie the pinball machine addict) and other Broadway plays. He succeeded John Garfield as the lead in Golden Boy.

Lee was co-founder of the Theater of Action and a member of the Federal Theater Project. During World War II, he served in Army Special Services in Australia and Manila and was cited twice for directing and staging shows for troops overseas, as well as teaching acting classes. After the war, he appeared Off Broadway in Norman Mailer's Deer Park (as movie mogul Teppis) and on Broadway in The Shrike, Once Upon a Mattress, Carnival, Incident at Vichy and The World of Sholom Aleichem.
Lee also began appearing in films, including bit parts in Casbah, A Song Is Born, Little Fugitive and according to "Sesame Street Unpaved", Saboteur. However, much like Zero Mostel, Will Lee was blacklisted as a communist in films and on television for a period of five years during the McCarthy Red Scare, according to members of his family. He had been active in the Actors Workshop and had been an unfriendly witness before the House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings in 1950 investigating show business. At the end of that period, in 1956, Lee landed the role of Grandpa Hughes in the soap opera As The World Turns, before finally being cast as Mr. Hooper.

He taught at the American Theater Wing for nine years (where his students included James Earl Jones) as well as at the New School for Social Research, Boston University and the Uta Hagen-Herbert Berghof Studio. In addition, he conducted his own acting classes. Outside of Sesame Street, later roles included television movies and a supporting role as the judge in Sidney Lumet's 1983 film Daniel (with Mandy Patinkin, Ed Asner, and Peter Friedman). He also worked in commercials, including a spot for Atari, as a grandfather learning to play Pac-Man from his granddaughter. He also did commercials for Ocean Spray juices.

At age 61, he began acting as Mr. Hooper in 1969 on the show called Sesame Street".

"He gave millions of children the message that the old and the young have a lot to say to each other," said Joan Ganz Cooney, president of the Children's Television Workshop. The New York Times reported that on Sesame Street, Will Lee's Mr. Hooper ranked ahead of all live cast members in recognition by young audiences, according to a then recent survey. His bowtie and hornrimmed reading glasses became his trademark. In a November 1970 TIME article, following the show's successful first season, Lee recalled his feelings about the show:

I was delighted to take the role of Mr. Hooper, the gruff grocer with the warm heart. It's a big part, and it allows a lot of latitude. But the show has something extra, ­that sense you sometimes get from great theater, the feeling that its influence never stops.

In addition to being a staple of Sesame Street for over ten years, Will Lee portrayed Mr. Hooper in television specials (Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, A Special Sesame Street Christmas), guest appearances (Evening at Pops: 1971), stage appearances, countless record albums, and parades, including the 1982 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Lee taped his final segments as Mr. Hooper in November of 1982, but his death would become the focal point of Episode 1839, in which Mr. Hooper's death is explained to Big Bird.

According to the NY Times obit, as he became known on Sesame Street, children would approach him on the street and ask, "How did you get out of the television set?"' or whisper, "I love you." "Apart from the joy of knowing that you are helping so many kids, the recognition is heartwarming," Lee was quoted as saying in 1981.

When Lee died of a heart attack in 1982, it left the producers of Sesame Street, the Children's Television Workshop, with questions about how to acknowledge the death of one of the series' most visible actors. After considering a number of options, CTW decided to have the character of Mr. Hooper die as well, and use the episode to teach its young viewers about death as a natural part of life and that it is OK for everyone—children and adults alike—to grieve when someone they love dies.

Episode 1839, now known to children and fans as "Farewell, Mr. Hooper" was aired on November 24, 1983 (Thanksgiving Day), and was quickly selected by the Daytime Emmys as being one of the 10 most influential moments in daytime television.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Remains found at WWI 'mass grave' - BBC

Remains found at WWI 'mass grave'

Some 5,000 Australian soldiers were killed, injured or captured at Fromelles
Archaeologists in France excavating the suspected mass grave of hundreds of British and Australian World War I soldiers have found human remains.

The dig at Fromelles has uncovered body fragments, including part of a human arm, but experts believe the site may hold the remains of almost 400 troops.

They died during a disastrous mission in north-east France in July 1916.

Many relatives are anxious for the team to find their loved ones so they can finally be given a proper burial.

Bloody failure

The Battle of Fromelles was intended to divert German troops from the Battle of the Somme which was raging 50 miles to the south.

But due to poor planning, the mission was a complete and bloody failure which greatly soured relations between the Australians and their British commanders.

For Australia, Fromelles saw one of the single greatest losses of life in the whole of the war.

In total, 5,000 Australians were killed, injured or captured, with around 2,000 lives lost in the first 27 hours of fighting.

Alongside them, some 1,500 British soldiers were also killed.

A young Adolf Hitler, then a 27-year-old corporal in the Bavarian reserve infantry, is believed to have been involved in the operation.

The dig, by Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (Guard), is examining ground near woods where it is believed the Germans buried the dead in pits.

With Australian soldiers standing guard close by, the team is sifting through the soil for bone, weapons and uniform fragments. So far remains have been found in five of the eight burial pits.

Peter Barton, a WWI historian involved in the dig, said he hoped to be able to determine the nationality of any remains found. The aim of the battle was to distract the Germans from reinforcing the battle of the Somme

"By looking at fragments of uniform, experts can tell whether they are British or Australian because they had different buttons," he said.

Mr Barton said that after the battle the dead soldiers' personal possessions had been removed by the Germans and eventually returned to their families.

He said it was "possible" more personal items could be uncovered if the Germans had "missed anything".

German stretchers

Tony Pollard, head of Guard, said markings in the ground showed the shape of the German spades that were used to cut the burial pits.

And he said metal rings from German stretchers used to carry the bodies had also been found.

Major General Mike O'Brien, who is overseeing the dig, told the BBC the battle had been "a disastrous day" for Australia, with "terrible casualties".
"On the other hand, the aim of the battle was to distract the Germans from reinforcing the battle of the Somme and you could look at that as one of the achievements of the battle - but an achievement at a terrible price."

Maj Gen O'Brien said the "slow and methodical" excavation was important for the whole of Australia.

"If the remains are still here, we need to find out the number and condition and perhaps decide whether there is a better way of commemorating them than leaving them here just as they are in this field," he said.

On the site of the nearby battlefield stands a statue of an Australian soldier carrying a wounded comrade.

In a local cemetery, the remains of 410 unidentified Australians are buried alongside the names of 1,300 others who have no known grave.

The work is being overseen by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and has the consent of the French, British and Australian governments.

If a mass grave is discovered, the countries must decide whether to exhume and rebury the bodies in a new cemetery, or to leave them in place but build a memorial on the site.


On the evening of the 19th July 1916 the Australian 5 th Division Infantry Battalions advanced across these fields in what was to become known as the Battle of Fromelles. This Battle was Australia's first large scale operation of World War One France