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Aart Staartjes

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Aart Staartjes (1 March 1938 – 12 January 2020) was a Dutch actordirectortelevision presenter and documentary maker from Amsterdam. He was well known for his role on Sesamstraat, the Dutch co-production of Sesame Street. On this show, his character’s name was Meneer Aart (Mr. Aart) and in this persona he authored a book called Meneer Aart: Leven en werken van de man die geen kindervriend wil heten (Mr. Aart: Life and work of the man who does not want to be named a friend to children).

Staartjes used to present the annual arrival of Sinterklaas in the Netherlands

After graduation from the Toneelschool, Staartjes performed with various companies including the Nieuw Rotterdams Toneel en Studio.[3] Staartjes made his debut in 1961 in Meneer Topaze, based on a play written by Marcel Pagnol in the 1930s.[citation needed] He performed in a number of TV shows, and in 1967 starts the show Woord voor Woord for the Interkerkelijke Omroep Nederland, in which he does bible readings. He is the voice of Rocus, “de vrije vogel”, for the children’s show Fabeltjeskrant. In 1972, broadcaster VARA asks him to develop a children’s show, and this, De Stratemakeropzeeshow, is his breakthrough: until 1974, with Wieteke van Dort and Joost Prinsen (and the writers’ collective of Willem WilminkKarel Eykman, and Hans Dorrestijn), he produces a program firmly grounded on a children’s perspective, sometimes controversially so.[3] The show didn’t eschew using colloquial language; “Poop and Pee Minuet”, for instance, was criticized in the tabloid De Telegraaf.[4] This show and its successor were hailed as groundbreaking in offering the point of view of children and in popularizing poetry for children to a wide audience, in a country which was until then quite conservative but had recently seen a wave of children’s books that tackled real-life issues, including divorce, sexual violence, drug use.[5] After the show ended in 1974, he performed in and co-directed De film van ome Willem, starring Edwin Rutten, a show that ran until 1989.[3]

With van Dort and Prinsen, with whom he made the Stratemakeropzeeshow, he creates J.J. De Bom voorheen De Kindervriend, in 1979. He plays the role of Hein Gatje, a postman who delivers letters in which children write of their problems and predicaments, which are then tackled in the show.[3] The three teamed up again with writers Wilmink, Eykman, and Dorrestijn[5] and while the show was very popular, the VARA pulled it after 32 episodes.[3]

In 1984, Aart started to play the role of Mr. Aart in Sesamstraat, the Dutch adaptation of Sesame Street. Mr. Aart is a rather grumpy elderly man who always has something to complain about, and especially about the animal characters Pino, Tommie and Ieniemienie. This character was added because critics felt Sesamstraat was too idyllic and needed something to counteract this. Over the years, Mr. Aart gradually became milder and developed into a more grandfatherly figure. This probably happened because of the death of Lex Goudsmit, who was considered to be the previous “grandpa” of Sesamstraat.

Staartjes was 22 years old when his first child was born. He divorced his first wife sixteen years later. He later married a woman named Hanna.[2]

On 10 January 2020, Staartjes was involved in a collision between a car and a quadricycle in Leeuwarden. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition and died two days later.[1][6][7] He was 81 years old

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