For more than 45 years, generations of Sesame Street fans knew and loved Bob McGrath — “Bob Johnson” on the show. He was one of the original human cast members when the series first launched in 1969, and McGrath remained with the show until 2016. Sadly, McGrath passed away over the weekend. He was 90 years old.
The news was announced on McGrath’s Facebook page. “Hello Facebook friends,” the post read. “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 Bob was the friendly music teacher on Sesame Street, a crucial role on the series given its many classic songs. Here he is singing one of the show’s most iconic tunes, “People In Your Neighborhood,” in 1988.
Born in Illinois in 1932, McGrath studied music in college and first appeared on television as part of the show Sing Along With Mitch. McGrath co-holds the record for the longest-tenured member of the Sesame Street cast with Loretta Long, who played Susan. Both McGrath and Long, and several other longtime cast members left the series in 2016 after their contracts were not renewed as the series refocused on different characters.
McGrath’s last appearance on Sesame Street came during the show’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2019.
McGrath may have passed away, but he’s left an indelible mark on generations of Americans, and his musical contributions to Sesame Street will remain for decades to come. Sadly, it has not been a great year for longtime Sesame Street fans; McGrath’s Sesame Street co-star for most of his tenure on the show, Emilio Delgado — better known as Luis, the owner of the hardware store — died back in March.
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