We Found Gordon!
We Found Gordon!
In 2009 we put together an anthology of Sesame Street's then 40-year history. The end result of this was the coffee table book, "Sesame Street: A Celebration – 40 Years of Life on the Street." The book is an extensive 300-plus page full-color masterpiece. Getting all the research together for this was a multi-year endeavor, involved multiple people digging through a seemingly endless trove of boxes and bins -- all of which, when pieced together, promised to tell the complete story of Sesame Street's history.
Except there was one item missing.
In the summer of 1969, Sesame Workshop (then Children's Television Workshop) created an unaired test pilot of Sesame Street that was shown only to a focus group of children. Later that year, on November 10, 1969 after incorporating the data gathered by this test pilot the first-ever episode of Sesame Street – Episode 0001 -- debuted.
The actor who played Gordon in Episode 0001 and held the role through Season 3 was Matt Robinson. In Seasons 4 and 5, it was Hal Miller, and then Roscoe Orman took over in Season 6 and has played the role ever since. But, we still had no idea who the mystery man who played Gordon in the unaired test pilot was. Our records came up empty, and the man's identity, we feared, was lost to history.
On November 10, 2011 – our 42nd birthday – we decided to ask the Internet for help. And congratulations, Internet:
You found Gordon.
Gordon's name was Garrett Hobart Saunders, a local New York actor who primarily performed in traveling theater. Out of respect for the privacy of his family, we won't be sharing the details of his life here, but the story as to how we found him – rather, how you found him, well, here goes.
We posted our call for help everywhere we could think of, starting with SesameStreet.org. We shared it across our social media platforms – on Facebook (even on Elmos and Cookie Monster's pages), as well as Twitter and Tumblr. When we posted it to Reddit, it quickly hit the front page, and within hours, people were making suggestions and within days the story travelled was all over the web. It even made it to a few television news shows, one of which ended up being what let us to our big break.
Mr. Saunders' nephew saw a story about our search and immediately contacted his cousins – Garrett Saunders' two daughters. Both women reached out to us later that day, providing us the photo above and the other information we needed. With their help, we were able to verify that Mr. Saunders was, in fact, the first Gordon.
We'd like to thank everyone who helped us spread the word and ultimately, solve our mystery. And thank you, too, to Garrett Hobart Saunders, for being part of Sesame Street's history.