Related topics

A Lesson in Love: Sesame Street Characters Tie the Knot

May 13, 1988 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ It wasn’t as lavish as Charles and Di’s, but when two ″Sesame Street″ characters exchanged vows Friday, it was the wedding of a lifetime, at least for those whose lifetime was less than 10 years.

Eight pairs of eyes were locked on the television set in Shirley Foster’s home as Maria and Luis got married in the season finale of the children’s program.

As in most ″Sesame Street″ segments, there was a lesson to be learned.

″Love is when somebody likes another person and they decide to get married,″ said Shemeka Fennell, 7, who had the day off from school and got to join the group at Mrs. Foster’s house in New York City.

″It’s when you like somebody in a special way,″ chimed in John Davy, 9.

″Big Bird looks nice,″ said Brandon Taylor, 5, who noticed that the leggy yellow character looked, well, different. Big Bird wore a giant turquoise flowered tie.

″Ernie and Bert look nice, too,″ Brandon said. They wore tuxedo shirts and bow ties.

Cookie Monster, in a relatively crumb-free shirt and tie, and Oscar the Grouch, resplendent in a garbage-splattered tuxedo, also were on hand.

The show presented various preparations for the big event. While Maria and Luis expressed cold feet in song, the fuzzy red Muppet Elmo, the ring bearer, was concerned only with whether he would drop the rings.

The story line evolved after actress Sonia Manzano, who is married in real life, told producers she and her husband were thinking about starting a family and wondered how this would affect Maria, her ″Sesame Street″ character.

The answer was to have Maria get married, the first wedding in the show’s 19 years.

″One of the major questions we were faced with was what do preschool children know about love and marriage and would they be interested,″ said Valeria Lovelace, the show’s director of research.

She said the decision to go ahead was made after researchers found ″no books, no journals, no articles on preschoolers’ conception of love.″

″There were books on divorce, but they didn’t really address the issue of love and why people get married,″ Ms. Lovelace said. ″We really felt there was a void.″

Some 90 Manhattan preschoolers questioned by researchers chose kissing, hugging and picking flowers as ″behaviors of loving,″ Ms. Lovelace said, but ″they just didn’t have any verbal responses for it.

″We wanted to give them that verbal information: that marriage is a promise; love is a very special feeling.″

And so, Maria and Luis fell in love. The courtship began last Christmas when they found a sick kitten and Luis, played by Emilio Delgado, nursed it tenderly back to health. Maria was smitten.

Over the TV season, the relationship developed, showing children different stages of love including hand-holding, kissing, hugging and even arguing - all leading up to Maria and Luis’ wedding day.

The show, produced by the Children’s Television Workshop, was taped in November and aired on public television stations nationwide Friday.

The pint-sized viewers who gathered at Mrs. Foster’s home gave the affair a thumbs up, except for 19-month-old Ryan Holder.

He snored through the hourlong show.