Who was the first celebrity guest on Sesame Street in 1968? Did you know Dora the Explorer has a last name? What Beatles member was the storyteller on Thomas & Friends? What cartoon is the longest-running animated show for children, and which show is a preschooler favorite?
From Sesame Street and Curious George to Paw Patrol, Sofia the First, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Dora the Explorer and more, there are many fun facts to explore about your favorite children’s TV shows.
Take a look at these 50 secrets.
Sesame Street premiered on Nov. 10, 1968. James Earl Jones was the first celebrity guest.
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Elmo loves Asian food. Elmo’s favorite food is wasabi, made from a plant related to cabbages, horseradish and mustard. It is also known as Japanese horseradish, and it’s used in cooking, especially in a paste or powder form.
Four first ladies have visited Sesame Street. Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama have all lived in the White House – and they’ve all visited Sesame Street.
Cookie Monster is more popular than Elmo. Many believe Elmo is the most popular Sesame Street character, but according to social media stats, Cookie Monster takes the prize. Cookie Monster has more than 10 million Facebook fans while Elmo has more than 6 million.
Arthur is the longest-running children’s animated series in the U.S. The children’s educational series Arthur follows the daily adventures of an 8-year-old aardvark and his friends. The TV program was inspired by Marc Brown’s book series. Arthur is also the longest-running children’s animated series in the United States.
A Grammy Award-winning band wrote the theme song for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song and the popular Hot Dog! song were both written and performed by Grammy Award-winning alternative rock band They Might Be Giants.
Minnie’s Bow-Toons is a spin-off series of shorts based on a popular Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode, which finds Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck running Minnie’s Bow-Tique, a specialty shop that stocks only bows and bowties.
In 2015, Dick Van Dyke received a Daytime Emmy nomination for outstanding performer in an animated program for his guest role as pirate Captain Goof-Beard on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
PAW Patrol, which uses computer-generated animation, is one of the most popular shows with preschoolers.
The pups on PAW Patrol have very different personalities and traits. Chase is allergic to cats. Skye is afraid of eagles. Rubble loves a bubble bath. Rocky doesn’t like the water.
Sofia the First features voices of many popular actors. The regular voice cast on Sofia the First features Ariel Winter of Modern Family as Sofia, Wayne Brady as Clover, Tim Gunn as Baileywick and Sara Ramirez of Grey’s Anatomy as Queen Miranda. Other guest stars include Eric Stonestreet, Bonnie Hunt, Megan Mullally, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Tambor, Ginnifer Goodwin, Nick Offerman, Oliver Platt and more.
Sofia’s school, Royal Prep Academy, was designed using the signature colors of headmistresses Fauna, Flora and Merryweather (the beloved fairies from Disney’s classic Sleeping Beauty).
Married actors Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman have both done voices for Sofia the First. Mullally was nominated for a 2015 Daytime Emmy Award in the category of outstanding performer in an animated series for her performance as evil fairy Miss Nettle.
A member of the Fab Four was featured on Thomas & Friends. Ringo Starr, who achieved fame as the drummer for the Beatles, joined the show as a storyteller for 52 episodes in 1984.
In 1998, Alec Baldwin narrated 52 new Thomas and Friends episodes in the U.S.
Dora from Dora the Explorer has a last name. It’s Marquez. The first Spanish word taught on the show was azul (blue).
Other fun facts from Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer: Swiper and Map are voiced by the same actor, Marc Weiner. There are three Dora the Explorer-themed rides at Nick Universe theme park at Mall of America in Minneapolis. Dora was the first Latina character to ever appear in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Fatima Ptacek voices Dora in both Dora the Explorer and Dora and Friends: Into the City! Fatima Ptacek, starred in the Academy Award-winning 2012 short film Curfew. She is also a competitive gymnast and currently competes at USA Gymnastics Level 7.
Alexandria Suarez, voice of Naiya on Dora and Friends, is also the voice of Backpack on Dora the Explorer, a role she’s had since she was 6 years old.
Jake and the Never Land Pirates inspired Sharon Osborne’s first children’s book. Sharon Osbourne wrote her first children’s book, Mama Hook Knows Best: A Pirate Parent’s Favorite Fables, based on her character, Mama Hook, from Jake and the Never Land Pirates.
David Arquette voices Skully on Disney Jr.’s Jake and the Never Land Pirates. Other recurring guest voices include Ariel Winter as Marina the Mermaid, Josh Duhamel as Captain Flynn, Jerry O’Connell as Pip the Pirate Genie, Teri Hatcher as Beatrice Le Beak, Tiffani Thiessen as Misty the Wonderful Witch, Jane Kaczmarek as Red Jessica, Tori Spelling as the Pirate Princess and Rosie O’Donnell as the Bumble Queen.
Kelly Ward is the voice director for Jake and the Never Land Pirates. Ward is best known for his starring role as T-Bird Putzie in the legendary musical feature film Grease. The series also features original “pirate rock” music performed by The Never Land Pirate Band made up of Loren Hoskins and Kevin Hendrickson, whose animated alter egos, Sharky and Bones, pop up to sing pirate ditties throughout every episode. The pirate rockers also provide the title track, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and the musical score.
There is a theme park dedicated to Peppa Pig. Peppa Pig World is part of Paultons Family Theme Park in England. Another fun fact: Morwenna Banks is the voice of Mummy Pig, Madame Gazelle, Aunty Goat and Dr. Hamster on the show.
In 2016, Curious George celebrates its 75th anniversary. The first Curious George book was published in 1941 and the title has since sold more than 70 million copies. The Man with the Yellow Hat may not have a name in the books or TV show, but his name is Ted in the movie series.
Is a George by any other name as Curious? The inquisitive little monkey on Curious George is known by many other names around the world. He’s “Peter Pedal” in Denmark,” “Nysgjerrige Nils” in Norway, “Nicke Nyfiken” in Sweden and “Hitomane Kozaru” in Japan.
Curious George is touring the country. A nationally touring children’s museum exhibit, “Let’s Get Curious!” gives families an opportunity to interact with and learn from Curious George. The exhibit has been on tour since 2007.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is the first series inspired by Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which follows 4-year-old Daniel Tiger, who is the son of the original program’s Daniel Striped Tiger. In the show, Daniel Tiger’s baby sister Margaret is named after Fred Rogers’ long-time mentor, child psychologist Margaret McFarland.
Doc McStuffins features many celebrity guests. Lacey Chabert voiced Gaby, Camryn Manheim voiced Rescue Ronda, Lisa Loeb voiced Millie the Microphone and Jim Belushi voiced Glo-Bo as guest stars on the Disney Jr. show Other guest stars have included Geena Davis as Princess Persephone, Molly Shannon as Rita the Cheetah and Jeffrey Tambor as Santa.
In November 2014, first lady Michelle Obama hosted a private screening at the White House for military families where she showed a special Doc McStuffins Veterans Day episode. In the episode titled Training Army Al, Doc encourages her toy friends to find comfort and strength when their pal, the soldier action figure Army Al, is called to duty and will soon be separated from them — if only for a trip into the woods with Donny’s scouting troop.
Doc’s mom is named Myiesha (after Dr. Myiesha Taylor — founder of the “We Are Doc McStuffins” movement and Artemis Medical Society). It’s an organization of more than 4,700 women physicians of color from around the world that formed after seeing a reflection of themselves in the Doc character. Also, Loretta Devine (voice of Hallie the hippo) has won two NAACP Image Awards for outstanding character voice-over performance in 2013 and 2015.
Jorge Vega, voice of Ogre Doug on Nickelodeon’s Wallykazam!, also starred in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Many of the dogs featured on Martha Speaks are based on real dogs belonging to members of the Martha team. They include executive producer Carol Greenwald’s dog Daisy, business manager Heidi Hamperian’s dog Dante, head writers Raye Lankford and Ken Scarborough’s dog Ruby and coordinating producer Betsey Gartrell’s dog Gomez.
The “a-ha!” moment that inspired author Susan Meddaugh to create the character of Martha came from her son Niko. One day while eating a bowl of alphabet soup for lunch, Niko asked, “Mom, if Martha ate alphabet soup, would she speak?” Thus, the lovable, long-winded pooch was born.
Jake T. Austin, the original voice of Diego on Go, Diego, Go! was also featured in Nickelodeon’s Wizards of Waverly Place and The Fosters.
NASA was consulted when creating Miles from Tomorrowland. Consultants on the series include experts from NASA, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Space Tourism Society and Google.
Olivia Munn plays Phoebe, mom to Miles and Loretta and captain of the ship on Miles from Tomorrowland. Other recurring guest voices include Mark Hamill (Gadfly Garnett), Adrian Grenier (Captain Joe), Bill Nye (Professor Rubicon), George Takei (Spectryx), Alton Brown (Lysander Floovox), Wil Wheaton (Commander S’leet) and Brenda Song (Frida Liang).
In Miles from Tomorrowland, Miles plays the trumpitar, a futuristic version of a trumpet, to reflect that he and the great trumpeter Miles Davis share a name.
In PBS Kids’ Peg + Cat, you can usually find a musical note in the background. For example, the backgrounds featured in The Beethoven Problem are Beethoven’s actual handwritten score.
Bubble Guppies are voiced by famous actors. Zachary Gordon, voice of Gil in Season 1 of Bubble Guppies, is also the star of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies. Tori Feinstein, voice of Una, is in Broadway’s Matilda.
Jimmie Johnson and Ozzy Osbourne recently voiced characters on Bubble Guppies. It’s Jimmie’s daughter’s and Ozzy’s granddaughter’s favorite TV show.
Nickelodeon’s Yo Gabba Gabba! co-creator Christian Jacobs is the founder and leader of The Aquabats, a punk rock band known for dressing up as superheroes in concert.
Odd Squad guest stars used to be a part of the Second City comedy troupe. Many of the adult guest stars on PBS Kids’ Odd Squad, including Delivery Debbie, Coach Roberts and Logan the Ogre, are alumni of the Second City comedy troupe.
The Wild Kratts actors are brothers. Martin and Chris Kratt of Wild Kratts grew up in the wilds of New Jersey.
Sheriff Callie’s Wild West is voiced by a pop artist. Mandy Moore is the voice of Sheriff Callie on the Disney Jr. show. A guest star on the show was Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who voiced the Milk Bandit in an episode.
Sheriff Callie’s Wild West is the first Western for preschoolers. The show premiered on the WATCH Disney Junior app in November 2013. This was the first series across Disney/ABC Television Group to premiere multiple episodes online and on mobile devices before its television debut. It amassed more than 23 million views.
In addition to their lead roles as Deputy Peck and Toby, Lucas Grabeel and Jessica DiCicco also voice the trio of singing prairie dogs that pop up throughout each episode to perform little ditties reinforcing the lessons that are being introduced on Disney Jr.’s Sheriff Callie’s Wild West.
The Fresh Beat Band actors sing and play instruments. The actors from The Fresh Beat Band and Fresh Beat Band of Spies all sing and play instruments. During the past three years, more than 650,000 fans have seen the show, making it one of the most successful family music tours in recent years. Another fun fact: Tom Kenny, voice of Bo Monkey in the series, is also the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants.
PBS Kids’ Dinosaur Train was created by a dad. Craig Bartlett first thought of the concept when his son Matt, then 3 years old, was playing with trains and dinosaurs simultaneously. Matt is now in his 20s.
Blaze and the Monster Machines features voices on other Nickelodeon shows. Angelina Wahler, voice of Gabby on Blaze and the Monster Machines is also the voice of Deema in Bubble Guppies and the voice of Fee in Harvey Breaks. Caleel Harris, voice of AJ, is the brother of Curtis Harris, star of Nickelodeon’s The Haunted Hathaways. Also on Blaze, Kevin Michael Richardson, voice of Crusher, is also the voice of Shredder on Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) and Nolan North, voice of Blaze, is also the voice of Kraang on TMNT.