Cracks aka "Crack Master" (found animated Sesame Street short; 1975)
The short's opening shot.
Date found: 24 Dec '13 (English) / 15 Mar '17 (Spanish)
Found by: English: Anonymous and Dycaite Spanish: Patriot712
Cracks (also known as Crack Master) was an animated Sesame Street short that aired for its first time on December 31, 1975. The short gained notoriety in the late 2000s due to its unavailability, having aired a total of only 11 times over the course of 3 and a half years in the U.S. The short's initial popularity came from when numerous recounts of the short began emerging online.
The 1 and a half minute short tells the story of a young girl making friends with imaginary crack creatures (ie. a camel, a hen, and a monkey), formed by cracks in her bedroom wall, before encountering the unnerving "Crack Master", a large, distorted face that proceeds to bellow at the group, moments before crumbling to the ground; the short is narrated (partially in song form) by Dorothy Moskowitz. An official description of the short (as found in documentation sourced from the Children's Television Workshop archives at the University of Maryland, College Park) reads "A girl lying in bed imagines she sees a crack in the wall (DIVERGENT THINKING) (TIME 1:29)".
In late 2008, a man by the name of Jon Armond came into possession of a copy of the short after conducting a search effort for it, though he was ultimately contractually forbidden from sharing it with anyone and was, under no circumstances, to reproduce the short. While Armond offered people the chance to view the short in his home (and, on a select few occasions, actually travelled to an audience to show it to them), he upheld his contractual obligations and refrained from putting the short online (despite the huge demand for it), much to the dismay of many. On top of his aforementioned agreement to keep the animation under wraps, Armond was also forbidden from even publicizing the short's title or the names of those involved in its creation; the identities of the short's creators are still, to this day, completely unknown (for a time, animator Cosmo Anzilotti was rumoured to have had a hand in its creation, though he would later go on to deny any involvement). Armond did, however, record a 9 minute 'audio documentary' on the short in 2009, including a word-for-word reading of the script, which he shared with a handful of users that he'd previously been in contact with (with the recording eventually finding its way to YouTube).
Notably, in the years following Armond's successful acquisition of the clip, several Latin American users came forward with claims that the short had aired in the 1990s and 2000s during the Spanish dub of Sesame Street, Plaza Sesamo. Said version was uploaded to YouTube by user AT Productions (Patriot712 on the Lost Media Wiki) on March 15th, 2017, with his higher quality VHS recording being released on March 31st, 2017.
After conducting an extensive search effort of his own (involving letters and emails to both Sesame Workshop and the aforementioned Children's Television Workshop archives, plus petitions and the like), Lost Media Wiki founder Dycaite was sent a copy of the once-elusive short by a generous anonymous source on December 24th, 2013; it was uploaded to YouTube shortly thereafter, and has since garnered over 200,000 views. It has been confirmed by blogger Jennifer Bourne, aka Namowal (who was privately screened Armond's copy) that the version sent to Dycaite is not the same one that Armond had been provided with, as the latter was taken from an actual episode of Sesame Street and began with a brief glimpse of a previous skit, whereas the former appears to have been sourced from an archive of some kind, instead beginning with a title card (complete with production code and runtime).
The Huffington Post
The short's release caused a spark on numerous media outlets, most notably being The Huffington Post, who described it as "eerie" and "haunting".
On February 19, 2019, Studio 360 released another episode of their podcast. In an attempt to track down Cracks's origins, Kurt Andersen discovered that it was produced by "P Imagination" and narrated by Dorothy Moskowitz. Mel Martin composed the saxophone portion, and Peter Scott was the radio producer.
- Jon Armond's 2009 audio documentary on the short.
- MEGA mirror of the anonymous source's original file.
- Rundown of Episode 979 (February 10, 1977), as found in the Children's Television Workshop archives. Retrieved 04 Mar '15
- Cosmo Anzilotti's response to a letter from Dycaite regarding the short. Retrieved 04 Mar '15
- Blog post by Namowal on the short's unearthing. Retrieved 04 Mar '15
- The Huffington Post article on the discovery of Cracks. Retrieved 20 Feb '19
- Studio 360 podcast on Cracks. Retrieved 20 Feb '19