Forgotten Sesame Street characters


Granpa What?!


Wayland Flowers & Madame

Forgotten Sesame Street Characters

Granpa What?! (first appearance 3/4/1971-last appearance 4/4/1971)

Predating the humorous old hecklers Statler and Waldorf by four years, Granpa What?! Was a short lived attempt at an elderly Muppet character. Created by Muppet mastermind Jim Henson, the Granpa What?! character would stumble into ongoing skits and disrupt them by yelling “What?!” and “You’ll have to speak up”. Instead of reminding children of their loving grandparents the character was scary and confusing to most children and in some market research tests his presence caused crying and hysterics in the youngest demographic (3-5 year olds). According to Henson’s posthumously released autobiography “I, Muppet” (1994, Olive Press) the failure of Granpa What?! was devastating as were his other big Muppet failures, Dougie (an incontinent horse) and the early version of Oscar the Grouch, a politically charged Nixon the Grouch. FBI director J. Edger Hoover believed that Henson had communist sympathies and he was under constant surveillance. Henson was also the only muppeteer* on President Nixon’s enemies list.

*[I would also like to note that the only puppet/puppeteer on the fabled “enemies list” were Wayland Flowers and Madame who together with Jane Fonda performed for Vietnamese communist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh.]

    • Chris T Lipshitz
    • November 10th, 2009

    Oscar the grouch was originally orange before the commonly known green version. was this the early seeds of the orange revolution?

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