Stiles initially studied zoology & chemistry at Hunter College, & became a social worker for the New York City Welfare Department. During that period, he began writing comedy material for such performers as Ron Carey (later a regular on Barney Miller) & Marty Brill, & wrote for Merv Griffin.
Stiles joined the Children’s Television Workshop in 1971, & became the head writer on SESAME STREET beginning with Season 4. In later years, his work would often touch upon sensitive topics, such as the death of Mr. Hooper in episode 1839, or the effects of divorce on children in the unaired "Snuffy’s Parents Get a Divorce". In 1990, as part of the Season 22 curriculum mandate to examine race relations, Stiles wrote a skit in which a blue monster named Britta refuses to let Elmo play wubbaball because of his different fur color, only to find herself excluded.
Stiles has also written for appearances by the Muppets, such as an Ad Council nutrition spot with Cookie Monster, & authored a variety of SESAME STREET books (including The Perils of Penelope), wrote lyrics for such songs as "Put Down the DUCKIE", & helped to script Jim Henson’s pilot special The Muppet Show: Sex & Violence.
Stiles discussed his philosophy of writing in 1988: "Never talk down to children. Always try to entertain children & parents at the same time. Try to have adult characters speak the way adults speak & not in singsong kiddy-show style. & teach something while all this is going on...This is basically a sketch comedy show.
In 1996, Stiles co-founded Sirius Thinking Ltd, an independent children's TV production company, with fellow SESAME alumni Michael K. Frith & Christopher Cerf. At Sirius Thinking, Stiles wrote & produced the PBS children’s show Between the Lions, which premiered in 2000. The show has won 6 Daytime Emmy Awards, including a 2004 Emmy for best writing.
TV writing creditsEdit
- SESAME STREET (1971 - 1997)
- The Muppet Show: Sex & Violence
- Out to Lunch
- The Grover Monster - Jean Marsh Cartoon Special
- SESAME STREET, Special
- Free to Be... a Family
- The SESAME STREET Library Volumes
- The SESAME STREET Storybook
- The SESAME STREET 1, 2, 3 Storybook
- The SESAME STREET ABC Storybook
- The Perils of Penelope
- I’ll Miss You, Mr. Hooper
- The Amazing Mumford & His Amazing Subtracting Trick
- The Ernie & Bert Book
- Grover's Little Red Riding Hood
- Grover and the Everything in the Whole Wide World Museum
- Around the Corner on SESAME STREET
- The Count’s Number Parade
SESAME STREET Songwriting creditsEdit
- BIG BIRD Discovers the Orchestra, album
- Silly Dancing, SESAME STREET Live stage show
- Sleeping BIRDIE, stage show
- Sirius Thinking page on Stiles (archived)
- Old Jews Telling Jokes
- ToughPIGS.com interview: "We’re All Norman’s Kids"
- Graphic Policy interview: Muppets Gone Missing: Norman Stiles
- ↑ Season 4 Press Kit. 1971
- ↑ Johnson, Peter. "Taking Race Relations to the STREET." USA Today. November 12, 1990
- ↑ Blau, Eleanor. "Mum’s the Word, But SESAME STREET is Turning 20." The New York Times. November 14, 1988
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