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Norman Stiles: Misc



Up to date as of February 02, 2010

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Norman Stiles (left) and Chris Cerf at the 2001 TCA Awards.
Stiles wrote the lyrics for "Put Down the Duckie"

Norman Stiles is a writer who worked on Sesame Street and its related products for over twenty years; his concepts include the Muppet characters Count von Count and Forgetful Jones.

Stiles initially studied zoology and chemistry at Hunter College, and became a social worker for the New York City Welfare Department. During that period, he began writing comedy material for such performers as Ron Carey (later a regular on Barney Miller) and Marty Brill, and wrote for Merv Griffin. [1]

Stiles joined the Children's Television Workshop in 1971, and became the head writer on Sesame Street beginning with Season 4. In later years, his work would often touch upon sensitive topics, such as the death of Mr. Hooper in Episode 1839, or the effects of divorce on children in the unaired "Snuffy's Parents Get a Divorce." In 1990, as part of the Season 22 curriculum mandate to examine race relations, Stiles wrote a skit in which a monster named Lila refuses to let Elmo play wubbaball because of his different fur color, only to find herself excluded. [2]

Stiles has also written for appearances by the Muppets, such as an Ad Council nutrition spot with Cookie Monster, and authored a variety of Sesame Street books (including The Perils of Penelope), wrote lyrics for such songs as "Put Down the Duckie," and helped script Jim Henson's pilot special The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence.

Stiles discussed his philosophy of writing in 1988:

Never talk down to children. Always try to entertain children and parents at the same time. Try to have adult characters speak the way adults speak and not in singsong kiddy-show style. And teach something while all this is going on... This is basically a sketch comedy show. [3]

Outside of the Muppets and Sesame Street, Stiles has written for America 2-Night (starring Martin Mull and Fred Willard) and Mel Brooks' 1975 sitcom spoof of Robin Hood When Things Were Rotten.

In 1996, Stiles co-founded Sirius Thinking Ltd, an independent children's television production company, with fellow Sesame alumni Michael K. Frith and Christopher Cerf. At Sirius Thinking, Stiles wrote and produced the PBS children's show Between the Lions which premiered in 2000. The show has won six Daytime Emmy Awards, including a 2004 Emmy for best writing.


Television writing credits

Book credits

Songwriting credits

Miscellaneous writing credits

External links

  • Sirius Thinking page on Stiles
  • Old Jews Telling Jokes


  1. Season 4 Press Kit. 1971
  2. Johnson, Peter. "Taking Race Relations to the Street." USA Today. November 12, 1990
  3. Blau, Eleanor. "Mum's the Word, But Sesame Street is Turning 20." The New York Times. November 14, 1988

This article uses material from the "Norman Stiles" article on the Muppet wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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