A Special Sesame Street Christmas is a 1978 TV special starring the human cast of Sesame Street plus Big Bird, Barkley, Oscar the Grouch, and several celebrity guests including Henry Fonda, Ethel Merman, Michael Jackson, Anne Murray, Imogene Coca, and Dick Smothers.
The special centers around a retelling of the classic tale A Christmas Carol, with Oscar (of course) playing the role of the Scrooge-like character that does not like Christmas. Three ghosts (all celebrities) show up to show him the error of his ways.
This was also the first Sesame Street special to air on a commercial network, airing on CBS the same year that Christmas Eve on Sesame Street aired on the show's usual home of PBS (in fact, it aired the same week—Christmas Eve debuted on a Sunday, while this show ran five days later on Friday). In a departure from the latter special and the series itself, this one was not produced by the Children's Television Workshop (forerunner of today's Sesame Workshop) but by Bob Banner (known for producing The Carol Burnett Show and Perry Como's TV specials).
- The Cameo:
- A young Michael Jackson plays a fellow reading a joke book about ghosts. Oscar chats with him and offers to trade the junk book for some junk of his own. Michael offers it for free. Cute exchange between the two.
- Henry Fonda shows up during the song "Christmas Morning" to talk about what Christmas means to him and also say he needs a 3/4 wingnut.
- The Grinch: Oscar, or more technically he's playing the role of Scrooge.
- "Sesame Street" Cred: This special is notable as the only Muppet-related project that Michael Jackson ever participated in.
- Spiritual Successor: Nearly thirty years later Oscar would reprise his role of Scrooge in a different special, A Sesame Street Christmas Carol.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: Quite a few, but the crowner has to be when Oscar gets out an electric guitar and starts singing "Yakety Yak" until the guitar blows up. If not that, then it would be Anne Murray singing her song "You Needed Me" while gazing lovingly at Big Bird and Bob.
- Tiny Tim Template: This special involves Oscar adopting a cat named Tiny Tim, so-named because he broke his leg around Christmas.
- Yet Another Christmas Carol: Quite obviously Oscar the Grouch takes the role of Scrooge and three different celebrities are the ghosts that must show him the error of his ways.