Retro Dee is a regular contributor to The Grooveyard’s website, writing about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s. Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every week.
Hi folks, this is Retro Dee and once again, I have a new segment for you!
This segment is called “Faking The Fifties” (a subdivision of “Keeping The Fifties Alive”). In this segment, each post will showcase a scene from a show or a movie that’s supposed to take place in the 1950’s. I’ll talk about the scene, its content, and its accuracy.
For our first edition of “Faking The Fifties”, here’s a scene that I came upon in a rather unlikely place: Sesame Street! Now, you might be wondering why a woman in her 30’s, with no children, is watching Sesame Street. Well… I just was.
The Episode was 4067: “The Not-So Fuzzy Four”. This episode debuted on April 19, 2004. In the episode, Elmo wants to start a band, but all his friends are called home to dinner or to do chores. Elmo then runs into Gordon, his son Miles, and Miles’ Grandpa who are spending a Family Day together. Elmo explains that “Ehhmo’s band broke up and now Ehhmo has nobody to sing with tonight at Hooper’s store”. Miles volunteers. But they still need more members. Gordon tells Miles (much to his surprise) that he was once in a band, too. And there’s a flashback to Gordon, Luis and Bob in a band in what’s supposed to be the 70’s.
Finally, Miles’ Grandpa makes a confession. He was a singer too, and went by the stage name, Johnny Uno. Johnny Uno had a big hit in 1955, with a dance song called “Do The Macaroni”.
We then flashback to when Johnny Uno performed “The Macaroni” on “Sesame Street Bandstand” back in 1955. (Miles Orman plays the Grandpa as a teen.)
(Please note that the video below was recorded by a fan from the full episode, and might be removed. If it is, I suggest you watch the full Sesame Street episode on YouTube)
As a Muppet fan and lover of the 1950’s era, I got a kick out of this scene. I liked seeing the Muppet characters dance on “Sesame Street Bandstand” (a parody of American Bandstand) and I’ll admit “The Macaroni” is a catchy tune. Plus, Miles Orman has one heck of a good voice.
Just for fun, let’s have a look at accuracy. I love how they set the stage with the curtains and records. This, of course, was exactly the kind of set you’d see on shows like American Bandstand when a popular star of the day would perform their newest hit. Johnny Uno’s suit is a perfect example of the formal wear that entertainers donned in the day. Looking a still shot, you might not know you’re looking at a scene that’s Faking the Fifties! Good job, Sesame Street!
However, if you want to analyze it further, they might have done better just stating that it was “back in the 50’s” rather than giving an actual year. 1955 was a little too early for the Dance Craze era. If I were to accurately date Johnny Uno’s performance, I would’ve made it 1957 at the earliest. But does Sesame Street need to be 100% historically accurate? Of course not. I just love that they payed homage to the 1950’s in this way.
So, how about Miles’ Grandpa? Did they place him in the correct era? Let’s see. If the episode was made in 2004, 1955 would’ve been 49 years earlier. And if the Grandpa was 18 in 1955, he’d be 67 in 2004. That works, since the actor (Carl Gordon, best known for the 1990’s sitcom “Roc”) was around 70 when this episode was made.
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