Bob McGrath, one of the four original hosts of “Sesame Street” when it premiered in 1969, died Sunday at the age of 90.
Rest in Peace to our Bob McGrath.
He was so vital in not only our education, but our earliest cognitive memories.
Who are the people in your neighborhood?pic.twitter.com/mHtLqhi8MT
— Danny Deraney (@DannyDeraney) December 5, 2022
McGrath, who studied music at the University of Michigan and the Manhattan School of Music, starred on the show for 47 years on more than 150 episodes, and sang some of the biggest hits of the show, including “People in your Neighborhood” and “Sing.”
“Hello Facebook friends, the McGrath family has some sad news to share. Our father Bob McGrath, passed away today. He died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family,” McGrath’s family informed the public on Facebook.
After getting his master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music, McGrath performed on NBC and did symphonic choral work under composers as famous as Igor Stravinsky.
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When a fraternity brother of his informed him about the budding new show “Sesame Street,” McGrath initially expressed disinterest, but then a couple of months later he saw some test pieces with the Muppets, and his perspective radically changed. “It took me about 2 minutes before realizing that I wanted to do this show more than anything else I could ever think of. I was so overwhelmed by the brilliance of the animation, claymation, early film and test pieces with Jim and Frank Oz, and everything else that was going on in the studio,” he recalled in a 2015 interview.
McGrath recalled one of his two favorite episodes of the show, titled “Goodbye, Mr. Hooper,” which revolved around the death of Will Lee, who was one of the four original stars of the show.
Will Lee passed away when Sesame Street was on a break. Jon Stone, a wonderful writer, director, and one of the few original creators that started Sesame Street, had about 3 months to research everything that a child should know on death and dying. …
On recording day, we rehearsed everything for several hours, totally dry with no emotion, just saying the words. When it was time to “go to tape,” we filmed with full, raw emotions, which were very difficult to contain. We were barely able to keep it together, with tears in our eyes, because we were really reliving Will’s wonderful life on Sesame Street for all of those years. …
I got lucky and was the last one to see Will in the hospital the night before he died. He had so many tubes in his body so the poor guy was really limited in terms of what he could say and do. I asked the nurse how he was doing, and she said they could not get him to urinate, so I told Will that if he would just try to urinate we would dedicate the next day’s show to him with the letter “P.” Will couldn’t really speak because of the tubes, but he had the biggest smile on his face that he could possibly manage, and was laughing as well as he could.
“Bob embodied the melodies of Sesame Street like no one else, and his performances brought joy and wonder to generations of children around the world, whether teaching them the ABCs, the people in their neighborhood, or the simple joy of feeling music in their hearts,” the Sesame Workshop stated. “A revered performer worldwide, Bob’s rich tenor filled airwaves and concert halls from Las Vegas to Saskatchewan to Tokyo many times over. We will be forever grateful for his many years of passionate creative contributions to Sesame Street and honored that he shared so much of his life with us.”