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Feathers of Color: What Was It Like Playing the Famous Bigbird: An American Icon

Feathers of Color: What Was It Like Playing the Famous Bigbird: An American Icon

Автором Lionel Douglass

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Feathers of Color: What Was It Like Playing the Famous Bigbird: An American Icon

Автором Lionel Douglass

113 pages
1 hour
Dec 2, 2005


Feathers of Color What it was like playing the Famous BigBird An American Icon is about the journey of a man who became one of the worlds biggest stars. In this book Lionel Douglass shares the days before he reached stardom as the Sesame Street character, and the book will touch on several phases of his life, giving you a glimpse of his lifes paths. This book will make you realize that we all have a destiny.

Part of Lionels destiny was to secure a spot in history, and join the ranks of those who have been affiliated with one of the biggest television shows for children. This book touches upon the life of a middle-class, small-town boy with dreams, which were answered as a young-adult by becoming one of the famous Bigbirds, on stage and screen. Learn the interesting story of how Lionel became one of the famous Bigbirds, and how Jim Henson, Caroll Spinney, Anita Mann, as well as Kermit Love helped school and condition him to represent and portray the work of this Muppet great!

Travel along with Lionel and find out how he was snubbed by members of the Sesame Street organization despite his vital contributions to the shows survival.

Ride with him, and share his journey as he tells the world about a dreamer who embraced the opportunity to become one of the worlds largest icons, and some of his fascinating adventures along the way.

Just sit back and relax, and enjoy Lionel Douglass story of an African American who relished the chance to portray such a world-renowned icon.

Dec 2, 2005

Об авторе

The Big Trip “Thinking back on how it all started” What type of person becomes one of America’s biggest Icons you may ask well let me share a bit about who I am. My ?rst truly big adventure was traveling to California for “SWS” which is: Sunshine, Women and Soul Train. And boy, I must say, I found all three to be beyond my wildest small-town dreams. Unfortunately, my life between leaving my hometown of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, up to my life inside the Bigbird costume will have to wait. But let me tell you, living life in the world I was introduced to, and the experiences I had as a single, young, black, talented, wet-behind-the-ears and everywhere else 18-year-old was unlike any other. My experiences during the ’70s and ’80s with the world were the most incredible times ever. I say it’s only by the grace of God that I’m around to tell these stories today because I was exposed to many different life-altering things. For example, people handing me a joint, weed, grass, marijuana or whatever you want to call it was handed to me as readily as handing me a stick of gum. The alcohol that everyone seemed to be enjoying was everywhere. Cocaine would sit on table’s like mounds of ?our ready to bake a cake free for whom ever wanted some. It was by God’s grace, along with my mother and family upbringing, as well as enough self-pride to say, “No!” which saved me. It freed me from the consequences that can come from indulging in such activities? I truly learned the power of saying, “No.” It does work. I said, “No!” so often, and with such conviction that people started saying “No!” for me. I take pride in that. It’s something that stands out as much as any other great accomplishment and I have gained a certain respect from others that has carried over to today. Well let’s not forget to mention the abundance of free sex, and for a young man of 18 years, this was the hardest one to resist. For us, the AIDS epidemic hadn’t hit home. Again GOD was in my corner, he worked with me, and showed me that sex could be just as addicting as all of the other actions. But I was caught, it only takes one weak moment, and I had one. And that was when I truly learned the meaning of “with every action is a reaction and consequence.” It came with irresponsible sexual behavior. I had a baby. At the young age of twenty-four and with no mental preparation or anything else as far as preparation was concerned. It might have been the worst thing in the world for some, and it truly can be a time stand-still event, but I accepted my new role followed the proper steps, did what I knew I could do, and did a lot of praying and started the journey down a new road. I’m just grateful for mothers and fathers. My mother and father stepped up and took Jevon in as if she was their own child, and gave her a home and a family life like I had. Yes, it wasn’t what we wanted, and sure marrying Jevon’s mother, making our own family would’ve been ideal, but like I’ve said about my life, as people we must make decisions and pray that we are making the choices that will better everyone’s life. Not everyone will understand our decisions but later with the will of God they will get a chance to see the love that people give and try to make things better for themselves or others. It’s not that I did not ponder to make a family life and still hold a career in showbiz,it was just very difficult. However just like me, Jevon grew up imagining how different her life should or could have been. She was a little more boisterous than I was, and she had a bit more anger than I did. One reason might have been that I was still a part of her life, but not a big enough part for her. In her head, she didn’t live with me and there wasn’t a reason that would have made any difference at her young age as to why not. She may have been angry with me because she felt I had destroyed her life and in some sense abandoned her and had taken her from her mother and us as a family so as a child it may hav

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Feathers of Color - Lionel Douglass


© 2005-2012 Lionel Douglass. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

Published by AuthorHouse 8/31/2012

ISBN: 978-1-4259-0152-3 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-4259-0153-0 (hc)

ISBN: 978-1-4678-1002-9 (e)

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only. Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

Since the first edition of this book and due to premature publishing problems with the first edition we were forced to stop publication. Now that those matters have been rectified we have our second edition of this exciting book.

Second edition edited by Belinda Johnson & Nancy Douglass.

Table of Contents

The Author’s Inspiration

The Big Trip

Thinking back on how it all started

What was it Like Playing Bigbird?

Rewarding memories

How Playing Bigbird Has Changed My Life

Life changing experiences

Taking the Opportunity

Why did I take the Job?

My Darkside Experience with Sesame Street

Remembering the hurt

Can We All Work Together?

Memories of trying to be a family

Scary Moments

Looking back at moments of fright

Road Life

My other world

Sesame Street-touring Dirt

Behind the Scenes

The Producers of Sesame Street Live

A Bit of Sesame Street and Big Bird History


First, I must give thanks for all creation to God, then to my mother and father who have passed. Big thanks to Jim Henson, CarolI Spinney, Kermit Love, and Anita Mann for the guidance and opportunity to share the portrayal of such a great character, Bigbird.

To my family I must give my love and thanks: Parents, Vivian and Russell; sisters, Vanessa and Lisa; my brother-in-law, Del; nephews, Justin and Jason; and also my grandmother, Virginia. No matter how many ideas I would bring to them, they never made me feel as if I was out of my mind. If anything, they always made me feel as if I was and am a very special person, thank you.

To all the lives that crossed my path during my wonderful and exciting career. God bless everyone.

Last but not least, I would like to thank my daughter Jevon. I will always remember my mother telling me the story about when the two were in the supermarket. Jevon, a small child at the time, saw a magazine with Bigbird on the cover and yelled out, There’s my dad, Bigbird! Maybe someday it will be something she will pass on to her children.

I have married since the first edition of this book and due to premature publishing problems with the first edition we were forced to stop publication. Now that those matters have been rectified we have our second edition of this exciting book. Therefore giving me a chance to recognize my wife Nancy and express my Love for her in print. She is still the girl I see when I looked across the room who caught my eye like a fishermen throwing a hook out for a fish. She hooked me then and I am still on that hook and not trying to get free. And a wonderful shout-out to my daughter Mikhail and grand-kids Dominique, Diego, Dillon and Ron Thank you and I Love you Nancy.


In Memory of My Parents

I miss my mother and father ever so much. My hope is

that through my efforts, (and the many other people around the world) who have joined together to fight, and beat, this deadly disease of cancer we can make a difference. My sisters and I along with friends have sponsored and produced several event’s and designed the smile for life pin that was inspired by our mother’s desire that everyone keep a smile on their face no matter how hard times may get. And that is just what she did. I thank her for passing that beautiful peace of life on to us and we hope to pass it on to the rest of the world with my contribution of donating a portion of the proceeds from my book to several Cancer research foundations.

Thank you for your purchase of my book and by doing so you are supporting cancer research. I have had first hand knowledge of the effects and devastation of cancer through the loss of my Mother and Father. My sisters and I have joined forces on many occasions to help in the fight against cancer and to aid in the research of this deadly and crippling disease.

Lionel top center as one of the members of the Famous Dance group The Lockers

Lionel and Jim Henson

The Author’s Inspiration

We live in a world that teaches us who we are, what we have done and what we will be is what defines us. We have all grown accustomed to such a world. Well my world was no different. From the beginning of birth our parents look at us and say to themselves; I wonder what he or she will be? And that is the beginning of the search. For many years it is out of our control. It is in the hands of the ones that birth us and care for us. But somewhere deep in our little soul is a desire to be something that is our own. Even though we don’t know what it is, it is there waiting for that defining moment when we say I want to be a… Then it happens, our world makes a u-turn. For some it is a u-turn to greatness, for others a u-turn to disaster.

What do I mean? The moment we take on our own identity and figure we know what we want and who we are going to become, is exactly when we get in the way of what we probably are supposed to be. We as humans have a way of getting in the way of natures natural course and changing it because of what we think we know, and most of the time we don’t know as much as we think. In other words if we would let nature show us who we are, we would probably become what we were meant to be, rather then what we fabricate and peer pressure makes us. I was not a trained dancer, I was not a trained actor,

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