Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street

Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street

by Michael Davis
4.4 43


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Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis

The New York Times bestselling account of the story behind one of the most influential, durable, and beloved shows in the history of television: Sesame Street, moving to HBO this fall

“Davis tracks down every Sesame anecdote and every Sesame personality in his book . . . Finally, we get to touch Big Bird's feathers.” —The New York Times Book Review

Sesame Street is the longest-running-and arguably most beloved- children's television program ever created. Today, it reaches some six million preschoolers weekly in the United States and countless others in 140 countries around the world.

Street Gang is the compelling, comical, and inspiring story of a media masterpiece and pop-culture landmark. Television reporter and columnist Michael Davis-with the complete participation of Joan Ganz Cooney, one of the show's founders-unveils the idealistic personalities, decades of social and cultural change, stories of compassion and personal sacrifice, and miraculous efforts of writers, producers, directors, and puppeteers that together transformed an empty soundstage into the most recognizable block of real estate in television history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143116639
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/27/2009
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 360,541
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Michael Davis was a Senior Editor and family TV Columnist for TV Guide from 1998-2007. A Neiman fellow, he has also worked for the Baltimore Sun and Chicago Sun-Times.

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Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
JL_Garner More than 1 year ago
Reading this new book from former TV Guide editor Michael Davis is a good first step.

In a breezy and engaging style, Davis takes Sesame Street not only back to its beginnings, but back to the disparate roots of the core creative team who brought it to life. From Joan Ganz Cooney's childhood in Arizona and early experiences working for NYC's Channel 13, to the early genius displayed by Jim Henson on "Sam and Friends," to kiddie classic "Captain Kangaroo" where Jon Stone, Sam Gibbon, and Dave Connell all got their start, Davis spends so much of the book covering how these people *got* to Sesame Street that by the time the show actually begins airing on Nov. 11th, 1969, you're about halfway through the book.

Not that this is a bad thing; for many of this book's readers, "Sesame Street" has simply been a fact of life, and kiddie TV forerunners like "Howdy Doody," "Ding Dong School," and "Captain Kangaroo" are novelties to be dredged up in random clips on YouTube. It's kind of like looking at one of those charts where they show the evolution from apes to humans.

There's plenty of juicy behind-the-scenes stuff, and Davis manages to strike a tone where he's neither writing a fluff piece (though his love of the show is very evident) nor trying to tear down an American pop culture icon. (The truth behind the slow decline and death of actor Northern Calloway, who played David in the '70s and '80s, is finally revealed here, and it's incredibly tragic.) The hurdles required to get the show off the ground, and keep it going in its early years are immense and well-documented. As "Sesame Street" prepares to enter its 40th season on the air, it's hard to imagine that there was a time where they weren't even sure if there'd be a second year.

There's probably more detailed books about the history of "Sesame Street" and the Children's Television (now Sesame) Workshop out there, but "Street Gang" is really accessible, and a quick read. A must-read for anyone who's waxing nostalgic about that part of their childhood. If anything, it'll deepen your appreciation of a show many of us grew up on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Listen,the book is called street gangs because the author is telling how it would be like if your were part of the gang of the sesame street people,HES NOT TALKING ABOUT STREET GANGS LITERALLY!thank you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Uh oh does not sound too good( blahhh)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First of all, the book is talking about Sesame Street not street gangs. Second of all, not all minorities are involved with gangs. America was built on imigrants. That is why we're called "The Great American Meltingpot". I'm sorry to spout off like this, but it's comments like that that make my blood boil. P.S Linda Bove inspired me to learn ASL.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book by Mr. Davis it explains the truestory of why sesame street anyone who grew up in the 70s will love this book i highly reccomend it to anyone who loves sesame street and gets the theme song stuck in your head will like it Angelina
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book that brings back many memories of watching Sesame Street as a child. No one can duplicate the amount of thought research and love that went into the making of this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Street Gang, by Michael Davis, is filled with great information and is good for anyone wanting to take a trip down memory lane. I read it for a history paper and the information and details inside were phenomenal. The book is also great for leisurely reading. Even if I weren't writing the paper, I would still read the book. I'm giving it to my English teacher tomorrow to read! I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to go down memory lane.
Melissa71 More than 1 year ago
I can't think of a better Christmas gift for your booklover than a copy of Street Gang, and just in time for Sesame Street's 40th anniversary! Any fan of Sesame Street will love this trip behind the scenes. Street Gang details Jim Henson's friendships, brilliance and imagination. Melissa
Arianne1686 More than 1 year ago
I have read just about every book that is out there about Jim Henson, Sesame Street, and the Muppets and I learned more from reading this book than I did from reading all of the others. I loved reading how all the business deals went and everything that goes into securing funding for Sesame Street. There is so much work that goes on behind the great specials and amazing television and reading in-depth about it was wonderful. There were so many things I didn't realize that happened or was going on to make everything work! This is absolutely a must-have for any Jim Henson, Muppet, or Sesame Street fan.
Canabel More than 1 year ago
Michael Davis lovingly takes the time to give each family member his due tribute. He has painstakingly researched an amazing amount of information and relayed it in a very enjoyable form. I devoured this book like it was a double chocolate cookie and I was, well, you know who. I have to admit that the first thing I did was turn to the photo pages mid book. I wondered who the heck Lloyd Morrisett and those cute babies were. Why was Captain Kangaroo in the book? And good grief, I couldn't decide if Jim Henson looked wiser as a serious teenager or as a bearded adult. My favourite pictures are of the cast and puppeteers sitting around that famous stoop in front of the brownstone. There is a warmth that radiates in particular from a photo of a young boy giving Oscar the Grouch a kiss, believing in the muppet while a girl on the top step giggles from her vantage point of the puppeteer doing his magic to bring Oscar alive. This for me pretty much summarizes the feel of this book. As a kid I totally believed there was Sesame Street somewhere. As an adult I have no problem marveling at the effort and artistry it took to make Sesame a reality. With the telling of its story Michael Davis does not destroy the illusion. He just adds another dimension to our enjoyment of Sesame Street. There are not too many things in this world that get better in the explaining. Thank you Michael Davis for this wonderful book. This review was brought to you by the letters M and D and by the number 10 out of 10.
KIDSTVWRITER More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Street Gang and found it well written, thorough, and vividly descriptive. It was funny, touching and, clearly, exhaustively well-researched. I loved all the juicy details about the many players involved in bringing this ground-breaking series to the screen. Sesame Street was social engineering at its finest - not just for teaching ABC's and 123's but for the way it portrayed people of different backgrounds living, working and playing together. The book does a great job setting the show in the context of the children's shows that came before and bringing to life the many people involved in its inception.
katherine_nepp More than 1 year ago
This book provided fascinating information about Sesame Street for the ones of us who still adore the program. There were times when I felt that there were more details than needed. Thus, it periodically seemed to "bog down" a bit. It was worth the purchase and reading of the book to experience the scene of Big Bird's dealing with [or not] the death of Mr. Hooper. As a grief counselor, I will be quoting this to my classes.
Nana_G More than 1 year ago
Detailed history of the development of the much loved TV show provides insights not only into its growth but also delightful memories of the characters we grew to love over the years. I found myself humming the theme song every time I picked up the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As someone who grew up in the late 80s and 90s in love with Sesame Street and everything Henson, this book served as the perfect history book and road map to a time and story I didn't know much about. Michael Davis does a great job in setting up how the idea of "educational programming" came about, and how that grew into into Sesame Street, and the Children's Television Worshop. He sets up the history of all the key players in the storyline, charting how they made it to New York and the street. It's a great way to learn about a show that has impacted so many.
David_P More than 1 year ago
Anyone who grew up in the 70s until now is familiar with the question raised in the Sesame Street theme song - "Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?" Michael Davis answers this question by telling us how we GOT to Sesame Street!

This book explores how Joan Ganz Cooney, the unsung 'parent' of the show, had to fight tooth and nails to get this great show on the air. Not only are her efforts detailed but those producers, directors, actors and Muppeteers who also used their talents in a collaborative effort that has won a multitude of awards and accolades and opened up a world as familiar to us our own homes.

But do not be fooled by the subject matter. This book is definitely for adults as it explores even the darker sides of some involved, particularly that of Northern Calloway (David) and his slow descent into madness and drugs. There are also quoted F-words and such that would not be for sensitive readers, which is my only complaint with the book.

No Sesame Street fan should be without this book. It will bring you a whole new appreciation for the show.
A_57_YEAR_OLD_TEACHER More than 1 year ago

BookDevourer More than 1 year ago
A definite must read and own. It's amazing how much Sesame Street has touched our lives and stayed with us throughout our childhood into adulthood. I can't imagine a life without Ernie or Oscar and you know what, I don't want to either. Thanks for everything. Lisa
MattW73 More than 1 year ago
Street Gang by Michael Davis is a great resource for all fans of the Jim Henson work or Sesame Street's great influence on a number of generations. The book chronicles the challenges the CTW team went through along the way and eventually how an iconic program was created. I was expecially interested in how Sesame Street had direct ties to Howdy Doody and Captain Kangaroo. Overall a very interesting read and quite informative.
Bleuize More than 1 year ago
Thank you, Michael Davis, for penning the ULTIMATE Sesame Street book! Though I was already almost a teenager when Sesame Street aired, I've always been a big fan of the show as I used to watch it as I babysat my sisters and brothers. How satisfying to read a book that goes behind and beyond one of the most enduring and endearing television shows of all time. BRAVO and congratulations, Michael! A fan forever, Patti
Loco More than 1 year ago
I was blown away by Street Gang. Michael Davis writes a fascinating, well-researched tale that made me understand just how groundbreaking this show really was. The portraits of its creators and their times are full of you-are-there detail, and the many anecdotes about the creation of the show are priceless for anyone who ever loved it. Davis brings a monumental passion to the subject and I think anyone who is passionate about Sesame Street will love this book as much as I did.
westlamfield More than 1 year ago
What a great book ! This is the story of the "perfect storm" that resulted in the creation of Sesame Street, the uniquely wonderful show for pre-schoolers. We rarely think of the "behind the scenes" aspects of things we see every day and take for granted. But often there is a story, and a facinating one at that. Sesame Street was a revolutionary show and it required the collaboration of many unique and talented personalities. As with any monumental group effort involving mutiple talents, there are stories of intrigue, love and heartache. And who better to tell this tale than the author, Michael Davis, who has an extensive history as a journalist and human interest writer. Read this book ! You will love it and will be lending it to your friends and relatives so they can share the experience with you !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a Sesame Street fan I had expectations for this book, but I did not expect to be blown away. The author writes with exceptional detail and drama about a behind-the-scenes world that heretofore was unknown to those of us who love the show. The narrative thread through the book asks a basic question: when high creatives collide is it a matter of fate or good fortune, providence or dumb luck. Be prepared to laugh and cry. And if you loved Jim Henson, this is a book for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First of all your reply shows YOUR ignorance and demonstrates the fact that everyone has flaws no matter your race! Also, if you would've taken time to pay attention to the title you would've seen that the author was talking about sesame street characters!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a fan lof Sesame Street, it's rare for a book on the subject teach me things I don't know. Very comprehensive story of Sesame Street. Couldn't put it down.