Mr Hooper
DEBUT 1969

Bert, Ernie and Mr. Hooper.


Big Bird's drawing of Mr. Hooper, which hangs on the wall behind Big Bird's nest. Big Bird's performer, Caroll Spinney, drew the picture.

Big Bird's names for Mr

Big Bird's names for Mr. Hooper

Some of Big Bird's names for Mr. Hooper.

Mr Hooper 02

The Hooper Family Album

Mr. Hooper was the elderly storekeeper on Sesame Street from 1969 until 1983.

One of the original human cast members, Mr. Hooper ran Hooper's Store, the corner candy store on Sesame Street. CTW advisor Gerald S. Lesser, when discussing the Sesame characters and including the first season cast, originally described him as "slightly mean and abrasive but with a poorly hidden nice streak,"[1] Mr. Hooper mellowed over the years. He developed a particularly close relationship with Big Bird, who bought his birdseed milkshakes from him. Their friendship was occasionally frustrated by Big Bird's frequent inability to correctly say the shopkeeper's name, often calling him Mr. Looper or similar rhyming variations. Still, Mr. Hooper had a great affection for Big Bird, even trusting him to open the store in episode 0198.

According to Oscar, the two were also quite fond of one another. Said Oscar in a Life magazine article:

We actually got along very well, because when he got groceries in he'd give me the boxes and stuff like that.[2]

The character's full name was not revealed on the show until an episode in which he received his GED certificate for attending night school. On the diploma, his name was listed as Harold Hooper.

In the 1978 special Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, it is revealed that Mr. Hooper is Jewish and celebrates Chanukah.

Mr. Hooper once sang a song, "When I Was as Little as You Are", where he sang about his childhood, revealing that his father owned a store and he had helped out as a child.

When actor Will Lee died in 1982, it left the producers of Sesame Street with the question of how to deal with the loss of Mr. Hooper. Dulcy Singer, executive producer at the time, said that "if we left it unsaid, kids would notice."[3] One way out was to avoid the issue of death entirely. Producers toyed with the idea of telling viewers that the character had gone away. Big Bird's performer, Caroll Spinney, said that "we didn't know what to do. [We] thought perhaps he could just retire, move to Florida or something, but then the producers thought that the best thing to do would be to actually deal with death."[4] After much discussion and research, the producers decided to have the character of Mr. Hooper pass away as well, and use the episode to teach its young viewers about death as a natural part of life and that it is okay to grieve and feel sad when a loved one passes away.

Mr. Hooper's farewell episode, episode 1839, aired on Thanksgiving Day, 1983. This landmark episode was a turning point for the show; it was selected by the Daytime Emmys as being one of the 10 most influential moments in daytime television. Sesame Workshop's Hooper Society bequest program is named after the character. According to a 2016 online game, Mr. Hooper was born in 1908 (the birth year of actor Will Lee).

For more information about the "Mr. Hooper's death" episode, see episode 1839.

Big Bird's names for Mr. Hooper

Posthumous mentions

  • David and Telly are talking in Hooper's Store when Gordon enters, asking for an egg cream. David does a Mr. Hooper impersonation: "Only two ways to make a egg cream, David. Two ways! My way, and the other way, which isn't as good." (YouTube)
  • In Episode 2073 (1985), Big Bird fondly remembers Mr. Hooper and tells Petey what he was like.
  • In Episode 3611 (1997), Leo Birdelli tries to buy Mr. Hooper's Picture from Big Bird, who refuses to sell it.
  • A&E Biography: Sesame Street (2001) mentions Mr. Hooper and the people who ran Hooper's Store after him.
  • In the 35th anniversary special The Street We Live On (2004), Mr. Hooper is one of the people Elmo sees when Grover takes him back to before Elmo was born.

Special appearances

Book appearances

See also


  1. Lesser, Gerald. Children and Television: Lessons from Sesame Street. 1975. p. 125
  2. "The Reflections of Oscar the Grouch", Oscar the Grouch, Guest editor, November 5, 2009. Life Magazine.
  3. Death of a Character is a Sesame Street Topic, The Associated Press. August 31, 1983.
  4. Caroll Spinney Interview on NPR Morning Edition, May 2003.
  5. Borgenicht, David, Sesame Street Unpaved (book), p. 124
  6. Spinney, Caroll The Wisdom of Big Bird, p. 120