Each week, we select the most interesting Jewish obituary. Today on Tablet, we lament the passing of a stalwart of children’s television and entertainment. Judy Freudberg was a veteran writer with Sesame Street whose career nearly spanned that of the show until her passing. Over the course of thirty-five years, she and her colleagues garnered fifteen Daytime Emmys.
For that achievement alone, she deserves the gratitude of millions of parents who might otherwise have been deprived of safe, dependable and (most amazing of all) edifying children’s fare on TV. When the phone is ringing, the pot is boiling and the kids are screaming you can always count on Sesame Street to help pacify the unruly mob with a show that you were probably raised on yourself. Some of us regard Sesame Street as a third parent.
She was also a writer on the animated feature, An American Tail, which chronicled the adventures of a group of Russian-Jewish immigrant mice, another claim to a stake in the pantheon of Great Jewish Entertainers.
But perhaps her most significant contribution to world culture was as her role as head writer, and principal architect of Elmo’s World. Is there a household in America without at least half-a-dozen Elmo puppets, dolls or other, sundry paraphernalia? Some children learn to say ‘Elmo’ before they learn their own names. And then there’s that indelible theme song, sure to endure in the memory long after we’ve quit children’s television, compared with which most pop music staples are mere child’s play. You could learn something, Gotye.
Video: Elmo in the Sky