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Bob McGrath, one of the original 'Sesame Street' cast members, dies at the age of 90

'His performances brought joy and wonder to generations of children around the world,' Sesame Workshop said in a statement.

Bob McGrath, one of the original 'Sesame Street' cast members, dies at the age of 90
Cover Image Source: Getty Images (L) Sesame Street cast member Bob McGrath attends the "Sesame Street" 40th anniversary - Astrid Stawiarz; (R) 'Sesame Street' hosts with Big Bird in a promotional still - Hulton Archive

Bob McGrath, best known for his role as the human character Bob Johnson on the series "Sesame Street," died on Sunday at the age of 90. In a statement shared on his Facebook page, the actor's family said: "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 daughter Cathlin told Fox News that he died due to complications after a stroke. "We met death the way our dad lived his life, singing with love in our hearts," she said. Cathlin thanked his fans for all the "beautiful notes and emails" the family has been receiving. She added that it is a "testament to the power of music and the arts!"

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind "Sesame Street," paid tribute to the generational icon through a statement shared on Twitter: "Sesame Workshop mourns the passing of Bob McGrath, a beloved member of the Sesame Street family for over 50 years. A founding cast member, 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."



 

"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," the statement added.

McGrath, a musician and children's author, was part of "Sesame Street" from 1969 to 2017 as one of the original human stars on the show, reports Insider. He worked in many "Sesame Street" productions including films, sing-alongs, holiday specials, video games, etc. Although his final series appearance came in 2017, he continued to attend public events tied to the educational children's television series.

Born on June 13, 1932, in Ottawa, Illinois, McGrath reportedly began singing at an early age and studied music at the University of Michigan before going on to attend the Manhattan School of Music, as per NBC News



 

According to AV Club, he also performed in the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra while serving in the Korean War. After his time in the army, he reportedly moved to the east coast and began singing on television.



 

Talking about "Sesame Street," he once said, "You know the old joke 'How do you get to Carnegie Hall?' […] My variation of that joke is 'How did I get to Sesame Street?' I got to Sesame Street by standing in front of Carnegie Hall." He was apparently waiting for a bus outside Carnegie Hall in the '60s when a friend who had started working at the Children's Television Workshop invited him to give an audition for a role in "Sesame Street."

Although McGrath initially declined, a few months later he made a trip to the studio for a meeting with Jum Henson. McGrath said, "It took me about two minutes before realizing that I wanted to do this show more than anything else I could ever think of." He is survived by his wife Ann Logan Sperry, five children and eight grandchildren. 

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