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Have you seen this Gordon?
November 10, 2011 11:46 AM   Subscribe

In 1969, Sesame Street put together an unaired pilot to test in front of children. The pilot contained the appearance of an actor playing Gordon different from the other three actors who subsequently played that character. Sesame Workshop has no idea who this actor was and has exhausted all leads. Do you know who the mystery Gordon is?
posted by mightygodking (91 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm guessing that a mefite will find or know the answer. Waiting with baited breath, singing "C is for Cookie"...
posted by Melismata at 11:49 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Personally I'm waiting for "WTF that's my dad!"
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:51 AM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


No idea, sorry, but Mystery Gordon is a great band name.
posted by ardgedee at 11:51 AM on November 10, 2011 [24 favorites]


DanFromSesameStreet Asked Reddit

They think it is Lloyd Haynes

I Really Really love the clip they are circulating. I feel like I am sippin sizzurp watching it.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:51 AM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


1. Thats some funky dancing!
2. I got torn up when I saw Mr. Hooper.
posted by vacapinta at 11:54 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


That Lloyd Haynes guy is pretty close but seems to have some graying around the edges that Mystery Gordon doesn't. Would they bother to do that much makeup on a ST extra?
posted by DU at 11:55 AM on November 10, 2011


Yeah now that I look back at the thread seems like Dan has discounted the idea. Hope they find the guy.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:57 AM on November 10, 2011


What is bated breath?
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 11:57 AM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Doesn't look like Lloyd Haynes to me - different nose, for starters.
posted by Dasein at 11:57 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


More damningly, Lloyd Haynes was apparently Somebody in 1969. Why wouldn't they remember that?
posted by DU at 11:57 AM on November 10, 2011


One of these Gordons is not like the others...
posted by R. Schlock at 11:58 AM on November 10, 2011 [13 favorites]


I know more than a little about Sesame Street and had no idea there was yet a third Gordon. I hope they find out soon!
posted by pinky at 11:58 AM on November 10, 2011


Wow. Fascinating!
posted by zarq at 11:59 AM on November 10, 2011


Will the real Gordon please stand up?
posted by Leezie at 11:59 AM on November 10, 2011


Carroll Spinney (Big Bird, Oscar) also has been with the show since day one. And he similarly does not know who Mystery Gordon is.

Excuse me, who? Big Bird is Big Bird and Oscar is...

*cries*
posted by R. Schlock at 11:59 AM on November 10, 2011 [19 favorites]


I know more than a little about Sesame Street and had no idea there was yet a third Gordon.

Fourth.
posted by DU at 12:00 PM on November 10, 2011


They dug up more shots of Lloyd Haynes from the late 60s. Included for OCD purposes.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:01 PM on November 10, 2011


Wasn't there a mystery Gordon in the grassy knoll?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:01 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


With Sherlock Hemlock on the case, I trust that the mystery will soon be solved.
posted by Elly Vortex at 12:01 PM on November 10, 2011 [12 favorites]


Mr. Snuffleupagus must've murdered and eaten him.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:03 PM on November 10, 2011


Now Reddit says it's Thalmus Rasulala.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:07 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, pretty sure it's solved. Here's the mystery Gordon and here's Thalmus.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:09 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know who he is, but I've seen him on Sesame Street.

Though, I saw Sesame Street the day it came out.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:09 PM on November 10, 2011



It's been 40 or so years. Does anyone else pray daily for Carroll Spinney?

Also, Bob and his lovely tenor was one of my first crushes.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:10 PM on November 10, 2011


Mr. Hooper!!!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:10 PM on November 10, 2011


Definitely not Lloyd Haynes. I used to watch Room 222 regularly and have the first two seasons on tape, and that's not Mr. Dixon.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:10 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fourth.

Crap!
posted by pinky at 12:11 PM on November 10, 2011


Hmm. That does not look like Thalmus Rasulala to me. He's familiar, but mystery Gordon is not.
posted by zomg at 12:13 PM on November 10, 2011


When the time comes, Carroll Spinney is DEFINITELY next in line after Jim Henson and Mr. Rogers. Don't want to think about that time.
posted by Melismata at 12:13 PM on November 10, 2011


Think reddit nailed it. Now they will be even more insufferable than they were after they found the only existing copy of Cry Baby Lane.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:15 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's been 40 or so years. Does anyone else pray daily for Carroll Spinney?

I was just watching Rocky & Bullwinkle last night, and worrying about June Foray.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:15 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Thalmus Rasulala" is my NPR name.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:16 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't think it's Thalmus Rasulala.....check out Rasulala in this All in the Family clip, filmed two years after the Sesame Street pilot. He's taller and has a slight gap between his front teeth, which "Gordon" doesn't have. Also the voice is different.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:17 PM on November 10, 2011


Leon Phelps?
posted by Muddler at 12:20 PM on November 10, 2011


Fun fact: That actor also played Mr. Noodle's brother from another mother, Mr. Noodle in the original pilot of Elmo's World. He was cut before the show went to air. He just can't catch a break from Children's Television Workshop.
posted by Gary at 12:20 PM on November 10, 2011


My brother's mother is my mother too
My other brother's mother is my mother too
And if I had another brother she would be his mother and
My mother too!

woops, I think that was Electric Company, not SS...
posted by Melismata at 12:24 PM on November 10, 2011



"What is bated breath?"
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 2:57 PM on November 10 [1 favorite +] [!]

As much as I hate spelling correction on the web, I want to thank the link cause I like, just learned that fact last week and still think its really interesting. Shakespeare, what a baller, amitrite?
posted by midmarch snowman at 12:24 PM on November 10, 2011


Thalmus Rasulala would never have played Gordon; The part is completely hypothalmus
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:30 PM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Caroll Spinney is 77 now. I was lucky enough to meet him last year and was blown away when he said, in Big Bird's voice "Hi, Joe!" Love him.

What most people don't know is that there's already an understudy Big Bird. Matt Vogel has played Big Bird here and there for the past few years, especially in the "Journey to Ernie" segments they did. Fun fact: Vogel is German and Dutch for "bird".
posted by inturnaround at 12:37 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think anyone on Reddit has ever met a black person in their entire lives.
posted by cazoo at 12:44 PM on November 10, 2011 [12 favorites]


"I'd make a great Gordon, Gordon."
posted by grounded at 12:48 PM on November 10, 2011


Faint of Butt: She's a long-time family friend [I've known her since birth, which sounds more fun that it is...she's, um, always been...prickly and not such a fan of kids]. And while she IS 94, if anyone will beat death forever-it's her. She's, as some might say, a tough old broad.
posted by atomicstone at 12:48 PM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Next time you see her, atomicstone, please tell her I said thanks.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:50 PM on November 10, 2011


June Foray actually released her autobiography recently, too. I think it's called "Did You Grow Up With Me, Too?"
posted by inturnaround at 12:53 PM on November 10, 2011


Man people in 1969 sure didn't have rhythm.

Journey from Ernie sucks.
posted by stormpooper at 12:58 PM on November 10, 2011


I did, I did! But the best part as a kid was that since she was a member of the Academy and they actually used to just send VHS tapes of all the movies, we got to see them all, too. Also, I've always been told that she was the first person to come up with the idea of selling animation cels as art.
posted by atomicstone at 12:58 PM on November 10, 2011


cazoo: "I don't think anyone on Reddit has ever met a black person in their entire lives."

I think the type of comments that get upvoted often prove that just as much as this topic.

That said, though I'm interested in the Mystery Gordon (stangely, what I used to call my crime solving van) I'm kind of blown away that there are other Gordons than Roscue Orman. I mean he's not a fucking Time Lord.* How did think get away with that shit?

* Or is he?

Yet the fact that June Foray is not a fan of kids is, easily, my favorite discovery in this (and maybe any Metafilter) thread. Might have sucked for you, atomicstone, but it's the type of disconnect I love.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:00 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, let's try to narrow the field down a bit. We're looking for a guy living in New York, and associated with PBS and/or radio broadcast and/or television broadcast (perhaps an actor) in 1968/1969. It was probably filmed here. Does this help?

The guy may not have been an actor. He could be a writer or a producer, or just some guy that was in the studio at the right place at the right time for their pilot.

That's all I got for now.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:10 PM on November 10, 2011


Yeah... Could have been a singer/entertainer. Or a student. Or anyone.

Having my Social Studies teacher belt the Toys R Us theme in class one day screwed up my notion of who's a performer.
posted by zennie at 1:15 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Its Me!
posted by aacheson at 1:15 PM on November 10, 2011


I'm kind of blown away that there are other Gordons than Roscue Orman. I mean he's not a fucking Time Lord.* How did think get away with that shit?

I wouldn't be surprised if another kid's show tried it, but Sesame Street has normally shown a lot of respect for the children. They actually dealt with death rather than replace Mr. Hooper, for instance. But I guess this was early days, and they thought the kids wouldn't notice or care. It was also well before places like Metafilter existed to discuss Blue's Clues host changes.

Either that or they gave the kids too much credit and thought they would see it as an actor playing a part instead of a real person. But I just found out today his real name isn't Gordon, like Bob's name is Bob.
posted by Gary at 1:18 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


* Or is he?

Dear internet, please start making the Gordon re-generation videos now.

posted by Gary at 1:21 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Gary: "Bob's name is Bob."

-->

Bob's character had a long-lost brother named Minneapolis, an Indiana Jones-like action hero (played by Jeff Goldblum)

-- > what
posted by theredpen at 1:21 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


This link from Reddit says Mystery Gordon was a professional actor (whatever that means), was too "actory," and did not project enough of a male image.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:23 PM on November 10, 2011


Carroll Spinney (Big Bird, Oscar) also has been with the show since day one. And he similarly does not know who Mystery Gordon is.

Why do I think that the actor who played Big Bird died in 2005?

I remember the news story. I remember feeling sorry for Big Bird.
posted by run"monty at 1:25 PM on November 10, 2011


Mystery Gordon looks a bit Chinese to me.
posted by run"monty at 1:29 PM on November 10, 2011


What do I look like, the Gordon's Fisherman? i done a baaad thing
posted by JHarris at 1:32 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Carroll Spinney (Big Bird, Oscar) also has been with the show since day one.

This is an astounding fact. I have no idea what they're going to do when he retires; who else could possibly play Big Bird?
posted by JHarris at 1:37 PM on November 10, 2011


Let's hope Mr. Spinney is thinking of an eventual Big Bird replacement and has taken someone under his wing.

aheh
posted by Ron Thanagar at 1:43 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


D'uh. It's Trash Gordon.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:48 PM on November 10, 2011


Also, when Roscoe Orman took over as Gordon, they should have let him change his name. To Roscoe.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:49 PM on November 10, 2011


who else could possibly play Big Bird?

Matt Vogel.

Apparently, this is him in an episode of 30 Rock.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:53 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of blown away that there are other Gordons than Roscue Orman. I mean he's not a fucking Time Lord.* How did think get away with that shit?

The Sesame Street audience changes every few years so each kid only watches for a pretty short window of time before they get too old for it.
posted by octothorpe at 2:00 PM on November 10, 2011


WTF THAT'S MY DAD

(I haven't seen him since 1969 either :C )
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:11 PM on November 10, 2011


octothorpe, I just learned that Mr. Hooper died in 1983. I was born in 1986 and am very familiar with the character. At least when I was a kid, they played reruns of Sesame Street all the time, but as a kid I had no concept of what a rerun was- it was all just the same show to me. Embarrassingly, I also thought Saved By the Bell was current when I was watching it in the late nineties...
posted by Polyhymnia at 2:17 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Fourth Gordon is totally the best of all the Gordons, I don't care what you say.

The Third Gordon was all like "can't the polarity of the neutron flow just learn to co-operate?"
posted by bicyclefish at 2:26 PM on November 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, they showed reruns all the time when I was a kid. They also switched Gordon twice in six years, plenty of time for a kid to grow up through the changes. From this article there's a quote from Orman:
As Orman explained it, children had a hard time dealing with cast changes of that type: "The kids who were on the show that first season would not accept me as Gordon. One day there's Hal Miller as Gordon and the next day there's this new guy who says he's Gordon... the kids, both on the show and at home... they just assume that we are that person we're playing."
The first Gordon also left because he thought women joining the workplace and leaving their kids at home was a bad example. Times really have changed.
posted by Gary at 2:35 PM on November 10, 2011


(Sorry, that would be second Gordon, not the Gordon they are trying to find... That article doesn't mention pilot Gordon)
posted by Gary at 2:38 PM on November 10, 2011


Gary, if you mean Matt Robinson, he didn't leave, he was let go. He had a fair number of issues with (if I recall correctly) mental illness and substance abuse.
posted by ocherdraco at 3:03 PM on November 10, 2011


I'm kind of blown away that there are other Gordons than Roscue Orman. I mean he's not a fucking Time Lord.

People keep saying that. It's like they weren't even watching seasons 13-21. There's the Doctor, the Master, Romana, Borusa, Chancellor Goth, and Gordon. Remember when he tried to frame the Doctor for the mysterious disappearance of the Hairpiece of Rassilon? It was in "The Thirty Doctors." But then it turned out that he'd been wearing it under his giant time hat the whole time. Susan turned him in, IIRC, because she thought it was important for children to learn that "it doesn't matter what the top of your head looks like, because we're all going to get new ones pretty soon." Whether this Susan is also the Doctor's Susan is unclear, as this was a very poorly written episode.
posted by Adventurer at 3:20 PM on November 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


Huh: Roscoe Orman performed a one-man play written by Matt Robinson. (per wikipedia links)
posted by epersonae at 3:22 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ocherdraco - are you thinking of the character of David? Neither Muppet Wiki or Wikipedia mentions that Matt Robinson was let go due to mental illness and/or substance abuse.
posted by pinky at 3:32 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Matt Robinson had Parkinson's Disease, not substance abuse/mental illness issues. Ocherdraco is definitely thinking of Northern Calloway. Calloway's very sad end (as well as the deaths of Matt Robinson and Will Lee) can be read about here.
posted by briank at 3:43 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is actually turning out to be a rather good caper. Thwarted and thwarted again!
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:50 PM on November 10, 2011


I assumed they already looked in the archives.
posted by gubo at 3:58 PM on November 10, 2011


Maybe James Randi knows!
posted by gubo at 4:09 PM on November 10, 2011


Bald Gordon is the only Gordon.
posted by goethean at 4:50 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


...except goateed Evil Gordon.

And 'Token Black Observer Gordon' in the next season of Fringe.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:10 PM on November 10, 2011


Being born in '79, Gordon has alwas been Roscoe Orman to me. Which made seeing this blow my goddamn mind.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:13 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I swear to freaking God that is my old neighbor here in Seattle. He's the right age, has all the same facial features, and still speaks and moves exactly like Mystery Gordon does in the video.

I have since moved across town so I can't run over and ask him right now, but if this isn't solved in the next few days I will swing through the old neighborhood and see if I can catch him out and about.
posted by Aquaman at 5:20 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


jabberjaw: Okay, let's try to narrow the field down a bit. We're looking for a guy living in New York, and associated with PBS and/or radio broadcast and/or television broadcast (perhaps an actor) in 1968/1969. It was probably filmed here. Does this help?

Sesame Street didn't move to Kaufman Astoria until the early 80s.
posted by dr_dank at 6:24 PM on November 10, 2011


I notice Mystery Gordon has some kind of scar or horizontal cleft on his chin which would eliminate a lot of actors.
posted by gubo at 8:42 PM on November 10, 2011


I actually didn't know there were other Gordons besides Roscoe Orman. And now I'm a little sad because I remember actually wishing/pretending when I was a kid that Gordon was my dad. Instead of my fairly useless actual dad.
posted by katyggls at 11:03 PM on November 10, 2011


John Kenneth Fisher: "Being born in '79, Gordon has alwas been Roscoe Orman to me. Which made seeing this blow my goddamn mind."

I'm touched by the fact that he apparently borrowed King Friday XIII's robe for that role.
posted by katyggls at 11:07 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


who else could possibly play Big Bird?

Matt Vogel.


I don't know who this is, but if he changed his surname to Gro├čevogel he'd be perfect for the part.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:08 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm still waiting for the current Gordon to leave.

When the first Gordon left, when I was age 4, I felt betrayed, like I'd lost a dear family friend or uncle. Then the second Gordon stayed around just long enough for me to get attached to him too, and then whoosh, he was gone.

When the third one arrived (my first sight of him was seeing the back of his bald head, walking at night with The Count doing a voice-over, in that first-of-the-season episode, which made me confused), I was like, I'm NOT getting attached to you, you're just going to leave too!!! Aren't Gordons now supposed to leave every two years??

A mere 40 years later, I still feel the same way.

(I know, only a small part of my childhood baggage, but it's definitely there.)
posted by Melismata at 12:06 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Carroll Spinney (Big Bird, Oscar) also has been with the show since day one. And he similarly does not know who Mystery Gordon is.

This is not quite accurate. The five test shows we're talking about were taped before Spinney joined the cast. Based on the results of studying the test audiences, the characters of Big Bird and Oscar were created, and Henson hired Carroll Spinney to play them (Frank Oz supposedly refused to play a full-body Muppet character, having had enough of that playing the La Choy dragon in commercials.) But yes, from the time the show made its national debut on November 10th 1969, Spinney has been Big Bird and Oscar.

Yes, Matt Vogel has played the bird in some sequences and presumably will inherit the role. There was also an understudy in the 70s, Danny Seagren, who played Big Bird in a single episode.

But back on topic, I'm finding this search quite fascinating. Last time I checked the reddit thread, there was some effort being undertaken to check certain archives. Somewhere there must be a record of this man playing this role.
posted by evilcolonel at 12:57 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


No kidding, evilcolonel. Even if he might be dead by now, I would think he would have had at least a few friends noticing the call for help.
posted by Melismata at 1:39 PM on November 11, 2011


They found Gordon!
posted by jozxyqk at 10:33 AM on December 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


We were all wrong!
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:11 PM on December 9, 2011


Fantastic! I'm so glad to see this story come to a conclusion. I checked in on the old Reddit thread a couple weeks ago and was disappointed to see no progress. Now, there's a new one.
Hey Reddit... WE FOUND GORDON!
posted by Gordafarin at 7:28 PM on December 9, 2011


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