Emmy Magazine

The ABC’s of Sesame Street’s First Fifty Years

It might have seemed like just fun and games with songs, but the program’s core mission has always been to help children grow smarter, stronger and kinder.

“We’re making a show that has an impact on kids, helps them get ready for school, get ready for life and gives them a leg up — especially if they don’t have a formal preschool education,” executive producer Ben Lehmann says. He joined Sesame Street as a production assistant in 2001 and has gone on to direct and produce the show, winning two Primetime Emmys and eleven Daytime Emmys for his work there.

With a star-studded fiftieth-anniversary special planned for November (airing on HBO and PBS), Lehmann shares some of his favorite things about the show’s first half-century, and he does so in classic Sesame Street fashion: alphabetically.

It didn’t take long for this perpetually four-year-old Muppet to make friends and win fans when her family

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