Skip To Content
Forverts in English

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.”

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.