Sesame Street has been a staple of family programming for nearly fifty years and over that time has created a number of stars. While they aren’t exactly the typical celebrities that immediately jump to mind when you think of the famous, there is no doubt that Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster, and the rest are known around the world. That doesn’t mean that adding a bit of star power to the show isn’t going to be an attractive idea to both the show runners and famous people looking to expand their fanbase.
It seems like a no-brainer that if you’re someone whose livelihood depends on the masses having great affection for you that Sesame Street would be a very attractive show for you to guest on. That is because the fans of the show, little boys and girls, have the tendency to watch segments from the show again and again. While it is safe to say that they will be focused primarily on their Muppet pals, it is clear that it can only be good for the famous guest star that youngsters associate their face with happy times. That is why there have been legions of famous people who’ve made guest appearances on the legendary family program over the years. That is what inspired us to put together this list of the biggest stars to have ever appeared on Sesame Street.
The rules to be up for consideration for inclusion on this list are extremely simple. The only hard and fast rule is that a celebrity needs to have made an appearance on at least one segment of Sesame Street. Once they’ve satisfied that rule there are two things we will be using as our deciding factors. How big of a star they are and whether or not they are the only celebrity in the segment, as there are some instances in which there are a bevy of famous people all at once and that feels less important.
15 John Leguizamo
Alright, we admit it, John is a celebrity but we excluded folks that were more famous than him from this list. You may be wondering why that is the case, and let us tell you that we felt compelled to include John Leguizamo because of how amazing the segment of Sesame Street he appeared in is. Don’t get us wrong though, through films like Super Mario Bros, Carlito's Way, Executive Decision, Romeo + Juliet, Spawn, Summer of Sam and the Ice Age franchise, he has made his mark on cinema. When John made his way to Sesame Street he played a made-up alter ego named Captain Vegetable who taught Elmo all about the benefits of eating his roughage. A moment on the show that will likely seem ridiculous at first but it grows on you quickly and before too long you’ll be singing along with him and humming the tune to yourself hours later.
14 Richard Pryor
One of the most cutting edge comedians of all time, Richard Pryor shockingly made an appearance on Sesame Street years prior to his more family-friendly efforts in films. Largely eschewing the reputation that first brought him to the dance during his latter years, movies like the Superman franchise, Brewster’s Millions and See No Evil, Hear No Evil made him a star to the masses. When he made his appearance on the show that inspired this list Richard spent his time discussing the alphabet with a rather unique and charming attitude to him.
13 Ben Stiller
The son of a pair of comedy legends, Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller to be exact, it seems predestined that Ben would go on to make a living in that world and he did just that. The star of The Ben Stiller Show, he would go on to be an actor, writer and director on the international stage. Starring in movies like There’s Something About Mary, the Meet the Parents franchise, Zoolander, The Royal Tenenbaums, Tropic Thunder, and Night at the Museum movies, his place in history is concrete. Seen on Sesame Street alongside Tully, Ben gave his singing voice a try by performing the “People in Your Neighborhood” song to a dubious outcome.
12 John Candy
A comedy legend and beloved figure, especially in his homeland of Canada, John Candy has created a long list of influential characters. First becoming famous after he made waves as a star and writer on SCTV, he would make the transition to the movie world seamlessly. Appearing in a long list of films, he was memorable in The Blues Brothers, Stripes, Splash, Brewster's Millions, Spaceballs, Uncle Buck, Home Alone, Cool Runnings, and Canadian Bacon. Appearing on Sesame Street as a character he made famous on the aforementioned classic series SCTV, he portrayed Yosh Shmenge and played polka music for Oscar the Grouch.
11 Halle Berry
One of the most beautiful actresses in the world, if there was any question of that, Esquire naming her Sexiest Woman Alive in 2008 put it to rest. Halle has had an enviable career. Appearing in films like Boomerang, Executive Decision, Bulworth, the X-Men franchise, Swordfish, Die Another Day and The Call to name a few, she has been a mainstay of modern pop culture. Also the winner of an Academy Award for Best Actress due to her work in Monster’s Ball, if she had capitalized better on that momentum she would have been much higher on this list. Appearing alongside Elmo in a segment of Sesame Street focused on nibbling, a series of creatures come into the picture and despite being meant to take a small bite attempt to devour pieces of food all at once. That is until a tiger is introduced and surprisingly is the animal to actually take a nibble.
10 Adam Sandler
A lot has been made of late about the dwindling quality of the movies Adam Sandler puts out and there is a very good reason for that. Adam’s filmography of late may be embarrassing in a lot of people’s views, we’re looking at you Jack and Jill, but he is still a star as evidenced by mostly consistent box office and his Netflix deal. The star of classic comedies like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy and Big Daddy, it is the good will those films created that have given him staying power ever since. Appearing on Sesame Street alongside Elmo, Adam performed “A Song About Elmo”, a diddy that had a very apt name. Largely coming off as improvised, in the clip he proceeds to make a series of ridiculous variations of words that rhyme with Elmo to make the tune work.
9 Mel Gibson
At one time Mel Gibson was one of the most popular actors in all of Hollywood who had a reputation as a prankster. Since those days things have changed a lot due to several deplorable and disgusting rants the public heard about Mel uttering but he still remains a big celebrity. The star of huge movies like the Lethal Weapon and Mad Max franchises, he also appeared in movies like Bird on a Wire, Ransom, Conspiracy Theory, Payback and Signs. Also an accomplished director, he helmed movies like Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ, Apocalypto and Hacksaw Ridge. Appearing alongside Tully in a mock news segment of Sesame Street, Mel was there to talk about Australia alongside a duck that the Muppet mistook for a duck-billed platypus.
8 Katy Perry
One of the most famous and popular singers of this generation, Katy Perry has used her combination of singing talent and sex appeal to earn legions of fans. Debuting on the world stage with the release of her single “I Kissed a Girl”, the tracks sexiness, as evidenced by its lyrics and music video, caught a lot of people’s attention. Releasing several more singles that hit the top of the charts over the years since Katy even recorded an album that produced five number-one songs which was only the second time that ever happened in history. Appearing in a segment which involved her singing a variation of her hit song “Hot N Cold”, in the new version the lyrics were changed to be about Elmo not always wanting to play. However, there was a controversial outcome as many parents objected to the sexiness of the clothing she was wearing and the segment has been removed from some airings.
7 Johnny Cash
Arguably the biggest country music star to ever live, Johnny Cash had a career that made him one of the best-selling musicians of all time based on his more than ninety million records sold over the years. Famous enough to be the focus of a critically acclaimed and financially successful film called Walk the Line, the trials and tribulations of his life made amazing fodder for a film. Releasing huge songs like “I Walk the Line”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Ring of Fire” and “Man in Black” to name a few, his music has been the soundtrack of millions of lives. Performing on Sesame Street a few times over the years, he performed multiple songs including “Tall Tale”, “Five Feet High”, and most notably “Nasty Dan”.
6 Jim Carrey
One of the biggest comedy stars of this or any generation, Jim has used his malleable face and comedic timing to create more hilarious situations than we can count. Appearing in more than thirteen films that brought in more than two-hundred-million dollars at the box office, the movies he’s been in have grossed more than two and a half billion dollars. Integral to the success of movies like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, Liar Liar and Bruce Almighty, his comedies are almost always huge. On top of that, he has shown a surprising amount of talent as a dramatic actor in movies like The Truman Show, Man on the Moon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Appearing on Sesame Street back in the early nineties, he used his comedy chops to explain to a duo of Muppets about his unique manner of expressing his happiness.
5 Robert De Niro
One of the most respected actors of all-time, despite a drop in the quality of films he has been in as of late, there are few people who’ve become more synonymous with a style of film than Robert De Niro. Identified most with gangster films due to his amazing work in movies like The Godfather Part II, The Untouchables, Goodfellas, Casino and Heat, if a mob movie bares his name the world gets excited. On top of that, he has shown a great deal of range over the years including roles in movies like Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Brazil, Midnight Run and Meet the Parents. On Sesame Street Robert sat with Elmo and explains to him what acting is before pretending he is a dog, cabbage, and then Elmo himself which involves hearing the actor laugh like the Muppet which was amazing.
4 Robin Williams
Starting out his career as a celebrated comedian known for a pace that few people could keep up with, Robin managed to become famous by starring in a Happy Days spin-off called Mork and Mindy. Moving on to become an international movie star, he played a huge part in the success of movies like Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, Hook, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire and One Hour Photo. An Academy Award winning actor for his part in Good Will Hunting, he also has Golden Globes, Grammys, and SAG awards under his belt to name a few. Someone with a career that has spanned decades, Robin has actually made several appearances on Sesame Street. In one segment he gave Elmo a stick, in another he explained what makes something alive, and in another he discussed conflict with the two-headed monster. Additionally, he is one of many stars to have appeared as part of a legendary song on the show called “Monster in the Mirror”.
3 Oprah Winfrey
The queen of daytime television during her long-lasting and impactful run as the host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, this celebrity is such a big star that her first name is famed around the world. Also an incredibly successful entrepreneur, she spent years as the world’s most wealthy African-American woman due to her multi-billion dollar fortune. If that wasn’t enough, Oprah’s word is so trusted by many of her supporters that her endorsement of a product does huge numbers for it and it is believed she may be responsible that many people voted for President Obama. The only person on this list who only appeared on the show through a voiceover contribution, Oprah lent her voice to an animated version of a show that is supposed to be on her O Network. Focused on her discussing words that start with O, it is a charming piece of television.
2 Julia Roberts
Known as America’s Sweetheart throughout most of her multi-decade acting career, Julia has broken ground for actresses in a business that far too often puts a premium on its male stars. The highest-paid actress in the world throughout most of the nineties and the first part of the 2000s, she was a highly bankable star who inspired people to go to theaters to see her movies. Julia is the star of such beloved movies as My Best Friend’s Wedding, Notting Hill, Pretty Woman, Hook, Conspiracy Theory and the Ocean’s franchise of films to name just a few. Additionally celebrated for her acting skills, Julia has an Academy Award that she can place on her mantle and has been nominated another three times on top of her many others award wins. Featured in a segment of the show in which she laughs at Elmo’s attempts at scaring her before turning the tables and making him afraid, it is fitting that she interacted with arguably the show’s most popular character.
1 Michael Jackson
A music star from the age most of us would be sitting at home watching Sesame Street, in our eyes, Michael Jackson is the biggest star to have ever appeared on the show. Nicknamed the “King of Pop” for a reason, he has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, has managed to win several Guinness World Records, and has a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys. The first person in the history of the world to have a top ten single in five separate decades, he has more number-one singles under his belt than any male solo star in history. In fact, if we wanted to list all of his accolades you’d be reading for hours on end because his career was that impressive, so we’ll just say that he is one of the biggest music stars of all-time. Guest appearing on a special called A Special Sesame Street Christmas, Michael was seen walking down the street reading a book about ghosts before having a conversation with Oscar the Grouch.