Sesame Street turns 45 today, and to absolutely no one’s surprise, it is still successfully schooling us all on how to be the best versions of ourselves.
On November 10, 1969, Sesame Street premiered with lofty goals at the time: to educate young children while entertaining them on TV. Forty-five years later, the show that’s given us beloved characters like Elmo, Big Bird, and, the character that most gives me eyelash-envy, Snuffleupagus, continues to be an educational mainstay that has captured the attention of both children and the most in-demand celebrities of the times.
How has a children’s show attracted some of the biggest names in pop culture, you ask? It’s Sesame Street. Hello. Whether teaching us a lesson on the importance of diversity or the goodness of the first meal of the day, Sesame Street delivers its messages with wit, humor, and, well, colorful felt. But the show also pushes boundaries, and that’s why it’s here to stay. From being one of the earliest racially-integrated TV shows of its time, to being one of the first shows to feature a guest with Down Syndrome, Sesame Street showed that differences are worth celebrating and that it’s OK to be as funny or weird or shy as you are. And those are lessons we can all get behind.
So can celebrities. Check out some of the very best guest appearances on the show—some of them we first saw as kids, others just made us want to be kids all over again. Sesame Street has that effect.
A is for Anderson Cooper
This funny clip shows what happens when Anderson Cooper fills in for Oscar the Grouch to report on the letter “G.”
B is for Benedict Cumberbatch
One word: #Counterbatch
B is for Bruno Mars
This just might be the best lesson any child can ever hear — “Don’t give up!” — set to the soothing sounds of Bruno and crew.
D is for Destiny’s Child
I spy you, young Beyoncé Knowles
E is for Elvis Costello
In 2011, EC headed to SS to sing the parody song, “(A Monster Went and) Ate My Red Two”
J is for Johnny Cash
No “Sesame Street” would be complete without Johnny Cash’s amazing “Nasty Dan” duet with Oscar.
K is for Katy Perry
Katy Perry basically gets to chase Elmo around set all day. What a life.
L is for Lupita Nyong’o
Lupita Nyong’o delivers an absolutely mesmerizing performance with Elmo to remind us all, children and adults alike, of the beauty and value of loving the skin you’re in.
N is for *NSYNC
At the height of their fame, *NSYNC were not too cool to teach the young folks how to believe in themselves.
N is for Neil Patrick Harris
I behave like this every time I get a new pair of shoes.
Q is for Queen Latifah
The letter “O” never sounded so cool.
R is for Robin Williams
Robin Williams and a two-headed monster teach us about the word “conflict,” to dramatic (and hilarious) effect.
S is for Stevie Wonder
If you were a child in the audience here, you witnessed something very, very special, as a young Stevie Wonder performed his super-groovy hit “Superstition” live.
T is for Tina Fey
T is for Tom Hiddleston
Cookie Monster and Tom Hiddleston. It does not get much better.
Y is for Yo Yo Ma
Here, renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma, best known recently for his collab with dancer Lil Buck, performs a Beethoven quartet with a crew of talking puppets.