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This "Sesame Street" Episode From the '70s Was Banned for Terrifying Kids

The spooky episode, which only aired once, recently resurfaced online.

For over 50 years, episodes of Sesame Street have educated children and provided comfort for them, but that was apparently not the case with one episode from the 1970s. In 1975, Sesame Street aired an episode that was so scary, it was banned and never aired again. As reported by USA Today, the banned episode recently resurfaced online, reminding those who watched it 46 years ago of a spooky childhood experience.

The reason this particular Sesame Street episode terrified kids so much was the guest star it featured. Read on to see who joined the series for one appearance only and why they caused parents to complain.

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The episode featured a famous witch.

Sesame Workshop

The controversial Sesame Street episode aired on Feb. 10, 1976 and featured Wizard of Oz star Margaret Hamilton in character as the Wicked Witch of the West. In the episode, a Sesame Street regular, David (Northern Calloway), accidentally ends up in possession of the witch's broom, and she spends the episode terrorizing him and others in the neighborhood in an attempt to get it back. At one point, she threatens to turn Big Bird into a feather duster.

Kids—and their parents—were not happy.

Margaret Hamilton on "Sesame Street"
Sesame Workshop

According to an article about Hamilton in the Chicago Tribune, Sesame Street received letters from parents who said that the episode was too upsetting for children. After this, the episode never appeared on TV again. The A.V. Club reports that while the video has popped up on the internet now and then, it's generally been very hard to find. It's been archived by the Library of Congress, according to The A.V. Club—along with many other episodes—and was shown at a special event at the Museum of the Moving Image in 2019 called "Sesame Street Lost and Found."

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The episode made an impact on kids who saw it.

Cast members on the Wicked Witch episode of "Sesame Street"
Sesame Workshop

The comments under the newly uploaded YouTube video of the episode are made up of people who watched it as kids, those who are glad it's now available to watch online, and some who argue that it should never have been pulled.

"This episode scared me beyond belief when I was 5," wrote one user. "I would anxiously watch the start of each episode after seeing this one, to make sure it wasn't the 'witch one' again. Of course I never saw it again, and at some point convinced myself it was a nightmare."

"I was so scared of the Wizard of Oz when I was a kid! Then to see this on Sesame Street as a child it was crazy!" wrote another commenter.

Someone else shared, "The special effects with the zapping would be pretty intense & scary for kids. But as a grown-up, this is awesome!"

The Wicked Witch appeared on another kids show, too. 

Around the same time as the Sesame Street episode, Hamilton also appeared on a few episodes of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, Fred Rogers wanted his children viewers to understand that the scary characters actors play are not real. Hamilton appeared as herself and was shown donning her Wicked Witch costume, except without the signature—and creepy—green face paint.

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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