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1971 BE (Before Elmo)
January 30, 2007 6:15 AM   Subscribe

The Year of Roosevelt Franklin. High on the list of forgotten Sesame Street characters is one Roosevelt Franklin, a reddish purple muppet with pointed black hair and a distinctly hep style of speech (provided by the late Matt Robinson, the show's original Gordon). Despite Roosevelt's funky musical sensibilities (demonstrated in an album called My Name is Roosevelt Franklin, later released as The Year of Roosevelt Franklin), the character's classroom behavior was, well, quite frankly, poison. His constant misbehavior in school might have been fun to watch, but was seen as representing a negative stereotype and a bad example, and so it was adieu Franklin.
posted by Astro Zombie (23 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I posting: I find the actual Roosevelt Franklin to be much more interesting that the satiric one found in the first link. In retrospect, I would not have included that link.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:18 AM on January 30, 2007


Great post, Astro. I love Roosevelt. Here's his MySpace page: there's a whole bunch of YouTube clips posted there.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:23 AM on January 30, 2007


A possible inspiration for this Franklin?
posted by splatta at 6:46 AM on January 30, 2007


Toe in Norma Klein's Confessions of an Only Child thought the name was Rosabelle.
posted by brujita at 6:53 AM on January 30, 2007


I was delighted when that second link mentioned Sam the Robot. I was starting to think Sam was just a figment of my imagination.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:50 AM on January 30, 2007


Born in '71 here. My mom loved the Roosevelt Franklin character. Me, I can't remember him.

Roosevelt Franklin was screwed from the start.

As the token black muppet on the early days of Sesame Street, he was made to carry the weight of the entire race on his spindly, turtlenecked shoulders.


It's sad to think that Roosevelt Franklin might have been the first victim of political correctness.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:52 AM on January 30, 2007


His constant misbehavior in school might have been fun to watch, but was seen as representing a negative stereotype

Hmm, black hair, a distinctly "hep" style of speech, funky musical sensibilities, first name Roosevelt.... a reddish purple color?

One of these things is not like the others.
posted by three blind mice at 7:54 AM on January 30, 2007


Two words: Harvey Kneeslapper.
posted by mcwetboy at 7:54 AM on January 30, 2007


I always wondered what that Organized Konfusion song was about. I had a feeling it wasn't two Presidents.
posted by fidgets at 8:04 AM on January 30, 2007


And what to think about Kermit Roosevelt? Wouldn't he have made a great character?
posted by NekulturnY at 8:13 AM on January 30, 2007


A possible inspiration for this Franklin?
Absolutely, splatta. That recurring Arrested Development character was clearly an homage to Roosevelt Franklin.
posted by waldo at 8:19 AM on January 30, 2007


I never forgot Roosevelt Franklin. It was my favorite album... and I remember that they showed Shea Stadium in the opening. When visiting New York as a kid, we drove by Shea, and I excitedly pointed out 'Roosevelt Franklin Stadium'.

However, there is not enough mention in this post of the sublime genius of Mobity Mosely (Nobody Knows Me), part of Roosevelt Franklin's supporting cast. You can hear Mobity Mosely's track from the album about two minutes into this cool podcast from the Hellbound Alleee Network.
posted by ulotrichous at 8:21 AM on January 30, 2007


The happy truth is that Roosevelt Franklin grew up to become Clifford.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:40 AM on January 30, 2007


Awesome post.

Here's a groovy Roosevelt Franklin "Little People" Fisher Price Toy that I'm adding for no really good reason except that I think he's cool....
posted by anastasiav at 8:57 AM on January 30, 2007


My mother's gonna find me as sure as a moose likes moosejuice!
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:33 AM on January 30, 2007


Looks like they recycled his muppet clothes on "Andy Candy" and his body as "Eddie Spaghetti" in the Captain Vegetable bit.
posted by furtive at 10:06 AM on January 30, 2007


It ain't easy being reddish purple.
posted by Leather McWhip at 11:49 AM on January 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Roosevelt Franklin was my favorite Muppet.

He did seem like the token black Muppet, and it's a bit odd that he shares part of his name with the token black "Peanuts" character.
posted by GaelFC at 2:21 PM on January 30, 2007


I noticed that too.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:42 PM on January 30, 2007


Yeah, that coincidence made the fact that the puppet in Arrested Development is named Franklin even funnier.
Looks like they recycled his muppet clothes on "Andy Candy" and his body as "Eddie Spaghetti" in the Captain Vegetable bit.
It looks like you may be sort of correct here, furtive. It doesn't look like the clothes are the same, but Roosevelt Franklin is made out of what they call an Anything Muppet. These are generally separated by color, body shape (i.e. a green AM, a lavender AM, a fat blue AM, etc.) and how their hands are manipulated. Aside from their tongues, they have no features (except ears in certain cases) and everything else, such as hair, eyes, noses or clothing, are added on to create a character. So my guess is that if any of the parts in the Captain Vegetable come from Roosevelt Franklin, then Andy is the same puppet and Eddie has the same hair, though that's just conjecture and the quality of the image there makes it hard to discern the colors. Even more interesting to me is that Captain Vegetable himself is simply a lavender AM. By way of showing the variety of characters they can make from these base materials, though, check out the pages on AMs in the Muppet Wiki. And even though Roosevelt Franklin hasn't appeared on the show in nearly thirty years, at least one of the puppets is still around. I've been doing a project for Sesame Workshop the last couple of months and one of the puppets I've handled was labeled "Little Roosevelt Franklin".
I was delighted when that second link mentioned Sam the Robot. I was starting to think Sam was just a figment of my imagination.
Sam and Roosevelt definitely belong on that list. I hadn't even heard about Sam at all until I had an internship in the archives of the Henson Company a couple of years ago. Apparently he was based on something Jim and Co. were going to design for the World's Fair, and he's one of the characters I would most love to see operated in person. I don't understand what Prairie Dawn is doing on that list though. I suppose the fact that she's listed says a little something, but she's still on the show (doing Letter of the Day with Cookie Monster fairly often) and her profile never slipped as low as some of those other characters.

Seems like this is worth mentioning on any Sesame Street related thread (previously posted here).
posted by Nathaniel W at 6:11 PM on January 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the removal of Roosevelt Franklin was truly due to being viewed as a negative cultural stereotype. Maybe they axed him simply because his sketches often glorified causing trouble in school. That seems to be the reason they dumped Don Music.
posted by ErWenn at 7:54 PM on January 30, 2007


That seems to be exactly the reason that Sesame Workshop itself gives in the "adieu Franklin" link above. As you say, that's why they dropped Don Music, as well as a couple of short films, including Bumble Ardy, designed by Maurice Sendak.
posted by Nathaniel W at 8:55 PM on January 30, 2007


posted by anastasiav Here's a groovy Roosevelt Franklin "Little People" Fisher Price Toy that I'm adding for no really good reason except that I think he's cool....

Oh, thank you for explaining that. I thought you'd posted a Roosevelt Franklin butt plug.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:26 PM on January 30, 2007


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