It was on this day 37 years ago that Sesame Street premiered on public television, ushering in a new era of children's entertainment and education. It was my favorite show when I was a tot, and even today in my advanced age, I still will turn in on occasion when I need a quick smile. The show, while it has evolved over the years, still is the cream of the crop when it comes to teaching tiny ones about numbers and words and other simple concepts. Plus it's not as creepy as that damn Teletubbies program.
In honor of the Street's birthday, I thought I'd lay down some facts about one of my favorite Muppets, Big Bird. Yes, I did own a Big Bird when I was younger. You could make his bill move by sticking two fingers into the back of his head. (Oh, the things that will amuse the young.) His full story can be read by clicking the subject lines, which will take you to his page on the Muppet Wiki site. (Yes, a Muppet Wiki. The evolution of man's intelligence is complete.) But here are some bullet points.
* Big Bird is 8-foot-2 in height, which means he could throw down over Yao Ming if he wanted to. He's also only 6 years old, which means he must have one hell of a thyroid condition.
* He's a golden condor.
* He's the only Muppet, so far, to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
* His best friend, Mr. Snuffleupagus, was the original lead singer for The Doors before he was fired and replaced by Jim Morrison.
* He has a teddy bear named Radar, a homage to the character on M*A*S*H played by Gary Burghoff. Radar also had a teddy bear.
* The primary actor who plays Big Bird, Carroll Spinney, also plays Oscar the Grouch.
* Big Bird once appeared on an episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.
* Among the items found in Big Bird's massive nest: a mailbox, a football helmet, a bubble gum dispenser and the mummified corpse of Jimmy Hoffa. (One of these things is not like the other.)
* Among his more famous cameos on other shows was a memorable scene opposite Allison Janney on The West Wing. What is not commonly know is that the two briefly dated after they worked together but broke up due to the bicoastal nature of the relationship.
* Big Bird has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, along with a few droppings.
* He has recorded several musical albums, including the cleverly titled Big Bird Sings!, but flopped as a hip-hop artist when his rap debut, Flippin' the Bird, was a commercial disappointment. Though not as disappointing as Kevin Federline's "effort."