Original ‘Sesame Street’ Cast Member Dies At 90

Rob DiCaterino

Generations have literally grown up watching the popular educational kids show “Sesame Street.” You may have watched it as a child. Your children probably watched it. Your parents may have even watched it.

When we think of “Sesame Street” we think of some of the most popular muppets, like Big Bird and Elmo, but there are more characters on the show than just muppets. There are also real people on the show.

The first ever real human character on the show was Bob Johnson played by Bob McGrath. You probably remember Bob. He was on the pilot episode of the show, and he was a regular actor on the show for 47 seasons, all the way through 2017. Even after leaving the show in 2017, he never really left the show. He continued to make public appearances.

Yesterday, Bob’s family shared some sad news on Facebook. Bob has died. He was 90 years old. His family wrote, “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.”

Sesame Workshop also tweeted about the sad news writing, “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.”

Bob was born in Ottawa, Illinois, in 1932. He studied music at the University of Michigan and then at the Manhattan School of Music. Before landing the job at “Sesame Street,” Bob sang in the series “Sing Along with Mitch.” 

Bob’s family did not mention a cause of death. He is survived by his wife, Ann Logan Sperry, who he married in 1958. He is also survived by their five children.

Watch the video below to hear more about Bob and to see an excerpt of one of his memorable songs from “Sesame Street.”