How old is Oscar The Grouch? Oscar the Grouch is a Muppet character created by Jim Henson and Jon Stone for the PBS/HBO children’s television program Sesame Street. He has a green body, no visible nose, and lives in a trash can. Oscar’s favorite thing is trash, as evidenced by the song “I Love Trash”, with a running theme being his collection of seemingly useless items. Although the term “Grouch” aptly describes Oscar’s misanthropic interaction with the other characters, it also refers to his species. The character was originally performed by Caroll Spinney from the show’s first episode until Spinney’s retirement in 2018. Eric Jacobson began understudying for the character in 2015, and officially took on the full role after Spinney’s retirement in 2018.
How old is Oscar The Grouch?
Oscar the Grouch is officially 52 years old, having first appeared on Sesame Street on November 10, 1969. However, he has been known to say that he is much older than that, and that he was born in a trash can on a garbage dump.
Oscar is a grumpy grouch who lives in a trash can under the stoop of 123 Sesame Street. He is known for his negative attitude and his love of trash. He is also known for his catchphrase, “I don’t like anything!”
Despite his grouchiness, Oscar is a popular character on Sesame Street. He is a good friend to Elmo and the other characters, and he often teaches them valuable lessons about life.
In the 1980s, Oscar was given a pet worm named Slimey. Slimey is a friendly and optimistic worm who is the opposite of Oscar in many ways. However, the two of them have become good friends.
Oscar the Grouch is a beloved character who has brought joy to children and adults alike for over 50 years. He is a reminder that it is okay to be different, and that everyone has something to offer.
Initially, the puppet characters on Sesame Street did not appear on the actual Sesame Street set, but were relegated to the intermediary segments. Muppets creator Jim Henson wanted them to be integrated into the series, suggesting a giant bird and also a creature living in the neighborhood’s trash can. The character was developed by Sesame Street head writer Jon Stone and Henson. Puppeteer Caroll Spinney found inspiration for the voice in the driver of a New York City taxi he took to the studio. His first line was “Where to, Mac?”.
Henson credits the character’s name based on the personality of a “magnificently rude” restaurant owner and namesake of Oscar’s Salt of the Sea which Henson and Stone frequented. Henson’s office was on East 67th Street, just around the corner from Oscar’s Salt of the Sea on Third Avenue. In the early 1960s, Henson and Stone often had lunch there and observed that the owner, Oscar Karp, who dressed in black, looked unkempt, and had a gruff disposition.
The Oscar Muppet was orange for the first season of Sesame Street and then changed to green, which remained his permanent color. This was explained within the show by a visit to Swamp Mushy Muddy.
According to Sesame Street’s Robert W. Morrow, Oscar was created to indirectly demonstrate racial and ethnic diversity. Since his manners and tastes were different from those of the other characters, his creators hoped to address social issues by using his differences as a metaphor for racial and ethnic differences. Some viewers saw Oscar as a “surrogate for poor, urban Americans” during the show’s early seasons.
In the early Sesame Street development there was criticism that Oscar represented residents of inner city who had grown to accept injustice unchallenged, whilst other observers perceived Oscar to be a negative impression of African-Americans even though the Sesame Workshop did not intend the character to be a representation of black people. Joan Ganz Cooney was confused by this viewpoint when journalist Linda Francke informed her of its existence.
During the first season of Sesame Street, the street set was arranged in such a way that Spinney, who was right-handed, was forced to operate Oscar’s head with his left hand. After the set was redesigned, Spinney was able to switch hands.
In scenes where Oscar and Big Bird (both performed by Spinney) interact in a scene together, the situation has varied depending on the number of lines one or the other is given. When Spinney performed Big Bird, a second puppeteer operated Oscar to Spinney’s vocals; occasionally, Matt Vogel instead operated the Big Bird puppet to a vocal track by Spinney, while he performed Oscar. Previous Oscar puppeteers have included Jerry Nelson and Jim Martin.
In 2015, due to being diagnosed with dystonia, Spinney no longer puppeteered Oscar full-time on the show. Eric Jacobson became his understudy; often lip-syncing to a prerecorded vocal track by Spinney, and other times doing the voice himself.
Spinney continued to provide Oscar’s voice on the series for seasons 46 and 47, as well as select commercials, online videos, and the special Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas. Afterwards, Spinney entered semi-retirement, and Eric Jacobson fully assumed the role. Despite this, Spinney continued to receive onscreen credit for playing the characters through Season 50.
On October 17, 2018, Spinney announced his official retirement from both his characters. The following day, he recorded his final performances as Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird as part of Episode 5022 for the series’ landmark 50th anniversary, though, when the episode aired, none of his vocals were kept in. Spinney’s final vocal performance as Oscar the Grouch to air was for Episode 473
Oscar can also become mobile with the help of his friend Bruno the Trashman, who carries Oscar around in his trash can. Bruno is a full-body costume which allows Oscar’s puppeteer to manipulate Oscar while remaining hidden by the Bruno costume. Bruno’s tenure on the show lasted from 1979–1993. Also, as seen in the Elmo’s World episode “Dance”, Oscar’s legs can protrude from the bottom of his trash can to allow him to walk around. Similarly, in Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1978), Oscar is seen ice skating.
For several seasons, Oscar was frequently shown with his friend and pet Slimey, an orange worm. On occasional episodes he has mentioned leaving Sesame Street to attend “the annual Grouch convention in Syracuse, New York”.
Oscar openly admits that he does not like anything or anybody that is nice, except young human children (the only people that he can actually act nice to without facing ridicule from his fellow Grouches) as well as older fans of the show. The only person he liked on camera was Maria, which he would never admit.
He once inadvertently complimented a dance that his followers, The Grouchketeers, had performed for him. Oscar has shown rare acts of kindness such as trying to replace Ernie’s rubber duckie when Ernie had lost it. He also went out to find the missing Big Bird in “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street”. He and his girlfriend Grundgetta also love each other, though their relationship is somewhat rocky.
Oscar’s trash can
While appearing to be the size of a normal trash can on the outside, Oscar’s trash can is much bigger on the inside, as revealed in The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. Oscar has said it holds a farm, swimming pool, ice rink, bowling alley, and piano. Other items include his pet worm Slimey, his pet elephant Fluffy, his shoes, a backdoor and a gate to Grouchland USA, his hometown.
While Oscar receives new names in international dubs, Sesame Street international co-productions have often created their own version of the character.
In their second season, Germany’s Sesamstrasse created an antagonistic character named Uli von Bödefeld. While not a Grouch, he served the same role in plots as Oscar. When a fire destroyed the costume in 1988, a decade after he debuted, he and American segments of Oscar were both replaced by a Grouch named Rumpel. Caterpillar Gustav is the counterpoint to Slimey.
Israeli Grouch, Moishe Oofnik, Oscar’s cousin, is the only character to survive the first Rechov Sumsum, appearing in its current reboot, English/Hebrew series Shalom Sesame, and Israeli-Palestinian co-production Rechov Sumsum/Shara’a Simsim.
Other Grouches include Bodoque on Mexico’s Plaza Sésamo, Pancho Contreras on US Spanish version, Gugu on Brazil’s Vila Sesamo, Kırpık on Turkey’s Susam Sokağı, Ferrão on Portugal’s Rua Sésamo, and Kewal Khadoosa on India’s Galli Galli Sim Sim. Filipino adaptation Sesame! featured Kiko Matsing, basically a gorilla; also ATBP featured Bebong (The Trashed Monster).
Some Grouches differ from the mostly antagonistic mold. France’s 1, Rue Sésame featured Mordicus, who, like Oscar, lives in a trash can, and is slightly cynical, but is also described as lively and enthusiastic, and participated in the neighborhood band.
In Pakistan, he is named Akhtar and lives in a rusty oil barrel.
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