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VIDEO: Hear Yiddish spoken on ‘Sesame Street’

In this clip from a 1974 episode, storekeeper Mr. Hooper surprises Big Bird and the other characters by answering the phone in Yiddish.

This past Thursday, Nov. 10, marked the anniversary of the day that the iconic children’s TV program “Sesame Street” premiered in 1969.

In this surprising clip from a 1974 episode, we see the owner of the neighborhood candy store, Mr. Hooper, speaking on the phone to his aunt in Yiddish. Mr. Hooper was played by Will Lee, a Jewish actor from Brooklyn who appeared in numerous television and film roles, as well as the Broadway show, “The World of Sholom Aleichem.”

Lee was blacklisted during the McCarthy era but made a big comeback with his role as Mr. Hooper. According to a survey reported by The New York Times, Lee’s Mr. Hooper ranked ahead of all live cast members in recognition by young audiences. As Joan Ganz Cooney, president of the Children’s Television Workshop, put it: “He gave millions of children the message that the old and the young have a lot to say to each other.”

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