Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.
TV URBAN LEGEND: The show 227 used the same set as Sesame Street.
227 was a starring vehicle for Marla Gibbs (who became famous as the sassy maid on The Jeffersons). Gibbs played inner city housewife Mary Jenkins.
The series was actually put into production a year ahead of schedule, as the plan was for Gibbs to do the series when The Jeffersons ended in 1986. Instead, The Jeffersons was canceled a year early so the series went into production in 1985. Based on a play by Michael G. Moye, the show took place in an apartment building in Washington, D.C. with predominantly African-American residents (the official address was 227 Lexington Place). Moye’s original play was set in Chicago in the 1950s. He actually ended up taking his name off the series as he did not approve of the many changes that producers made to his original work, so the creator of the series is credited to a pseudonym Moye came up with, C.J. Banks. 227 eventually became more of an ensemble show over its five seasons, especially as Mary’s best friend, Sandra Clark (played by Jackée Harry) became a breakout character. Another member of the show’s original cast was Alaina Reed Hall, who played the kindhearted Rose Lee Holloway in all five seasons of the show.
Hall first came to national prominence as a cast member on the PBS children’s series Sesame Street, where she joined the series in 1976 as Olivia, the younger sister of Gordon Robinson, one of the original human characters on the series. Hall remained on the series until 1988, even doing the first three seasons of the show concurrently with her work on Sesame Street.
So Hall linked the two shows. However, there is an interesting legend that suggests that there is more of a connection between the two programs. According to Sesame Street’s official website:
When she left Sesame Street, actress and singer Alaina Reed didn’t have to move far. Her new show, 227, shared a set with Sesame Street. In fact, the front steps of the 227 apartment building were the stairs next to Oscar the Grouch’s trash can! Reed has appeared in stage productions on and off Broadway. Her film credits include Death Becomes Her and Cruel Intentions.
Is that true?
Here is the apartment building where Oscar the Grouch’s garbage cans are…
While it is true that there is somewhat of a visual similarity between 227‘s front stoop and the stoop of the building where Oscar the Grouch’s trash cans sit next to, there is one significant problem…
227 filmed in Metromedia Square from 1985-87 and Sunset Gower Studios from 1987-1990 (after shooting the pilot on Universal Studios’ lot). One thing those three places all have in common is that they are in Hollywood, California. Sesame Street has always filmed in New York City (Manhattan until 1993 and Astoria, Queens ever since). So no, they are not the same set.
But it’s such a pervasive legend that even Sesame Street themselves repeat it!
The legend is…
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