Mr. Hooper was the elderly storekeeper on Sesame Street from 1969 until 1983. Mr. Hooper is the tritagonist from 1969 to 1979 and a supporting character from 1980 to 1983.
One of the original human cast members, Mr. Hooper ran Hooper's Store, the corner candy store on Sesame Street. Originally described by CTW advisor Gerald S. Lesser as "slightly mean and abrasive but with a poorly hidden nice streak," Mr. Hooper mellowed over the years. He developed a particularly close relationship with Big Bird, who bought his birdseed milkshakes from him. Their friendship was occasionally frustrated by Big Bird's frequent inability to correctly say the shopkeeper's name, often calling him Mr. Looper or similar rhyming variations. Still, Mr. Hooper had a great affection for Big Bird, even trusting him to open the store in episode 0198.
The character's full name was not revealed on the show until an episode in which he received his GED certificate for attending night school. On the diploma, his name was listed as Harold Hooper.
In the 1978 special Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, it is revealed that Mr. Hooper is Jewish and celebrates Hanukkah.
Mr. Hooper once sang a song, "When I Was as Little as You Are", where he sang about his childhood, revealing that his father owned a store and he had helped out as a child.
When actor Will Lee died in 1982, it left the producers of Sesame Street with the question of how to deal with the loss of Mr. Hooper. Dulcy Singer, executive producer at the time, said that "if we left it unsaid, kids would notice." One way out was to avoid the issue of death entirely. Producers toyed with the idea of telling viewers that the character had gone away. Big Bird's performer, Caroll Spinney, said that "we didn't know what to do. [We] thought perhaps he could just retire, move to Florida or something, but then the producers thought that the best thing to do would be to actually deal with death." After much discussion and research, the producers decided to have the character of Mr. Hooper pass away as well, and use the episode to teach its young viewers about death as a natural part of life and that it is okay to grieve and feel sad when a loved one passes away.
Mr. Hooper's farewell episode, episode 1839, aired on Thanksgiving Day, 1983. This landmark episode was a turning point for the show; it was selected by the Daytime Emmys as being one of the 10 most influential moments in daytime television. Sesame Workshop's Hooper Society bequest program is named after the character.
- The scene explaining Mr. Hooper's death was done in one take because the actors were actually still recovering from Will Lee's death.