Sesame Street and Big Bird Feel 40 Years Young
For Big Bird, 40 is the new 6. Everyone's favorite 8-foot yellow lark and all his friends celebrated Sesame Street's 40th anniversary earlier this month. While the big Four-Oh means middle age in human years, it's forever young on the groundbreaking, self-renewing children's program. "Forty feels great! I feel pretty good because I'm 6 years old now in bird years," Big Bird tells TVGuide.com. "I was a wee child when it started. I think my first memory is Sesame Street." The same could be said for countless fans of the series that has netted a record 122 Emmys and has become one of TV's most enduring shows. See what Big Bird thinks has made Sesame Street so successful, what his Thanksgiving plans are and more!
TVGuide.com: Sesame Street is 40! Congratulations! Google paid tribute to you and your friends by featuring you on their logo. Did you see that?
Big Bird: That's right! My feet were standing there. Cookie Monster's eyes were the O's in Google. I don't have a computer, though. I'm only a bird. I'm more interested in acorns and trees, not computers.
TVGuide.com: Sesame Street is targeted toward kids, but people of all ages love you. How does that feel? How do you think you remain so beloved over the years? A lot of shows don't last this long.
Big Bird: It feels nice to be liked — loved even. Sesame Street isn't like any other place. It's just what Gordon said the very first time we saw Sesame Street — that this is unlike any place we've seen. We're a family here. I think that's what people like, not just me, but everyone, even Oscar. What a grouch!
TVGuide.com: He is a grouch. Are you guys friendly at all?
Big Bird: I tend to avoid him. He's a little grouchy. He calls me a turkey. I'm not a turkey; I'm a lark.
Watch clips from Sesame Street
TVGuide.com: Is Oscar ever in a good mood?
Big Bird: Yes, he made the mistake of getting up on the right side of the bed. After wishing everybody a lovely day, he realized he was in bad shape, so he went back to bed, put some rocks under the sheet, woke up and he was back to his real form. Everyone thought something was dreadfully wrong when he was so nice.
TVGuide.com: Who are you closest to?
Big Bird: I think Snuffy. He's doing fine. He's learning to tap dance. He's really rough and keeps cracking the pavement. I'm not very good at it, but I try.
TVGuide.com: When you first started 40 years ago, did you foresee any of this happening?
Big Bird: The only thing I can tell was that it was better than the usual. Who could ever foresee — I'm only 6! Where do I get these words? — I don't think anybody thought it could last this long and have so many nice things happen.
Watch Big Bird's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live
TVGuide.com: Sesame Street is very global now. How important is it for you to reach children all over the world and celebrate so many cultures?
Big Bird: Right, [we're in] 125 countries. I think it's very important to what they're trying to do and say. It's nice when people tell me it's funny and also educational. That's a big word! I think that's the key to what is the secret to why it's so good. [Fans] tell me such nice things, like, "You meant a lot to me" and "I watched you when I was a little boy" or girl. I get fan mail, but only from here and Canada!
TVGuide.com: You are focusing on science this season, right?
Big Bird: Yes, we are being green! We've been talking about having little gardens. They don't have to be very big, but having little gardens is fun. You can grow your own tomatoes. [We also talk about] taking care of trash, reusing things, not wasting stuff. [Michelle Obama] helped us plant a garden. She was very nice. I have met a lot first ladies: both Mrs. Bushes, Mrs. Clinton, Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Nixon and Mrs. Lincoln. Oh no, wait, I never met her! I got confused!
TVGuide.com: Who has been your favorite guest star and who would you like to see come on next?
Big Bird: One of my very favorites was Waylon Jennings, but we lost him. It's sad. I was hoping for Mickey Mouse, but he can't come. They told me he's made of something called celluloid or something. I just kind of like being surprised at who's coming next. You never know!
TVGuide.com: The holidays are coming up. Do you eat turkey?
Big Bird: No, Thanksgiving week is the week I hide out. I don't want to tell you [where] and let everyone find out! I don't want people to think I'm a turkey and get any ideas!
Guiding Light, Sesame Street to be honored at Daytime Emmys
TVGuide.com: What do you do when you hide out?
Big Bird: I celebrate with my family. We all gather at Granny Bird's house for Thanksgiving. We have shredded wheat and bird seed. Granny used to shape the bird seed into the shape of a turkey, but not anymore because one of our friends is a turkey and he got very upset when he saw it. It wasn't real! I gave him a "drumstick" and he still didn't want any. Now we just eat it as bird seed. It doesn't offend anybody.
Go behind the scenes of Sesame Street and meet Caroll Spinney, the 75-year-old man who's been in the Big Bird suit since the beginning: