Obituaries

Original, Longtime ‘Sesame Street’ Cast Member Bob McGrath Dies At 90

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  • Actor and singer Bob McGrath died on December 4 2022
  • He was 90 years old and passed away peacefully surrounded by family
  • McGrath was an original cast member of ‘Sesame Street’ for much of its run, playing Bob Johnson

Bob McGrath died on December 4, 2022. He was 90 when he passed away at his New Jersey home. News of McGrath’s passing comes from statements issued by his family. McGrath was an original cast member of the educational series Sesame Street and further news of his passing came from Sesame Workshop.

“The McGrath family has some sad news to share. Our father Bob McGrath, passed away today,” reads a family Facebook post, which continues, “He died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family.” McGrath was known to his fans as the character of Bob Johnson but he served many roles on the program.

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The life of Bob McGrath

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McGrath was born as Robert Emmett McGrath on June 13, 1932, in Ottawa, Illinois. From childhood, he showed an affinity for the arts and using performance to spread joy, as he would sing along whenever his mother played the piano; his mother encouraged his interests by enrolling him in a theatre program as well. He attended the University of Michigan’s School of Music and joined the Glee Club. Along the way, he befriended fraternity brother David Connell, who went on to become executive producer of Sesame Street.

Singer and actor Bob McGrath / © Children’s Television Workshop /Courtesy: Everett Collection

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But first came Sing Along with Mitch, starring Mitch Miller. He also successfully performed Irish and Japanese folk songs, which made him very famous abroad. His historic tenure with Sesame Street began in 1969, when Connell tapped into old connections when casting for the new program. By joining, McGrath became one of the original human cast members and went on to appear in 460 episodes across 47 seasons.

Memory lane and ‘Sesame Street’

Remembered as a singer, actor, musician, and author, McGrath touched many people’s lives and his passing has left many grieving. “Words cannot begin to express what Bob meant to me: a role model, a mentor, a friend,” says Sesame Street cast member Alan Muraoka in a statement on Instagram. “His kindness and wicked sense of humor were such a joy, and I loved him so much. Rest well my friend. You did good.”

SESAME STREET, Roscoe Orman, Loretta Long, Savion Glover, Bob McGrath, Ruth Buzzi, & the rest of the cast, celebrating Season 25, 1993-1994. (c)CTW. Courtesy:Everett Collection

McGrath also leaves behind wife Ann Logan Sperry, who he married in 1957. Together, they built a family comprised of five children, five granddaughters, and three grandsons. Around the time of their marriage, the couple settled in New Jersey, living in Teaneck until 2017, shortly after McGrath retired from Sesame Street. It is evident that in all areas of life, McGrath embodied what made Sesame Street so cherished and that is why Sesame Workshop said, in a tribute, “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.”

Rest in peace, a cultural icon.

The cast of Sesame Street is mourning a huge loss / ©PBS/courtesy Everett Collection (photo by Richard Termine) / Everett Collection

RELATED: ‘Sesame Street’ Big Bird Puppeteer Caroll Spinney Dies At 85

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