Bob McGrath, original ‘Sesame Street’ star, dead at 90 +2023

Bob McGrath, an actor who originally played a wise music teacher Sesame Street, died. He was 90.

McGrath died yesterday (December 4) at home in New Jersey, according to a post on his Facebook site. His daughter Cathlin confirmed this The New York Times that McGrath died of stroke complications and told the outlet that he was surrounded by family who decorated his house for Christmas and sang and danced with him the night before he died.

“We just knew that he wanted to follow the path that he lived,” she told the Times.

McGrath continued to play Sesame Street from the beginning and was featured in the popular children’s program for decades. His character, also known as Bob, was a staple on the show from its first episode in 1969 until 2016, when McGrath — plus cast members Emilio Delgado and Roscoe Orman — were fired after HBO refused to renew their contracts.

In a statement shared on Twitter yesterday, Sesame Workshop mourned McGrath’s death and gave him a call “a beloved member of the Sesame Street family for over 50 years.”

“As a founding member of the cast, Bob embodied the tunes of Sesame Street like no other, and his performances brought joy and wonder to generations of children around the world, whether it was teaching them their ABCs, the people in their neighborhoods, or the simple joy of music feel it in their hearts,” shared Sesame Workshop.

“A globally revered artist, Bob’s rich tenor has filled airwaves and concert halls from Las Vegas to Saskatchewan to Tokyo many times,” the statement said. “We will forever be grateful for his many years of passionate creative contributions to Sesame Street and honored that he shared so much of his life with us.”

Born on June 13, 1932 in Ottawa, Illinois, McGrath competed in music as a child and later attended the University of Michigan, where he studied singing. After earning his master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music, McGrath performed with various groups and in freelance gigs for years before being recruited to join by another Michigan alum Sesame Street.

While McGrath was initially reluctant to join in hopes of continuing his own show aimed at teen viewers, tapes of Jim Henson’s work persuaded him to do so NPR. He recalled in 2016: “I was like, to hell with this teenage thing, that’s what I want to do. Because it was clear from the start that this was going to be a very unique and incredible show.”

McGrath is survived by his five children, eight grandchildren and his wife, Ann Sperry.

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