Archives On The Air 205: Strike Me Red—Will Lee Papers

Jul 20, 2020

For many years, actor Will Lee played Mr. Hooper the grocer on the children's television series Sesame Street. But in his early career during the 1920s and 30s, he was involved with the left-wing experimental theater movement. One production he directed was a children's operetta titled Strike Me Red.

It was produced by the Young Pioneers of America, a children's organization of the Communist Party that ran summer camps from 1925 to 1935.

Strike me Red was produced in New York in 1934. Seventy cast members did short sketches about class struggle in the capitalist world, all in musical rhyming dialogue.

The Young Pioneers of America continued under various names until the Cold War when it faced scrutiny from the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Learn more in Will Lee's papers at UW's American Heritage Center.