Sesame Street legend Bob McGrath dead at age 90

Bob McGrath from Sesame Street Affinity Records, 1970 photograph of cover. Fair use, https


Robert Emmett McGrath (June 13, 1932 – December 4, 2022) was an American actor, musician, and children’s author best known for playing original human character Bob Johnson on the long running educational television series Sesame Street.


McGrath worked with Mitch Miller and was the featured tenor on Miller’s NBC-TV television singalong series Sing Along with Mitch for four seasons from 1960 to 1964. He was a singer on the Walt Kelly album Songs of the Pogo.

In the mid-1960s, McGrath became a well-known recording artist in Japan, releasing a series of successful albums of Irish and other folk songs and ballads sung in Japanese. This aspect of his career was the basis of his “secret” when he appeared on the game shows To Tell the Truth in 1966 and I’ve Got a Secret in 1967.

From 1969 to 2016, McGrath was a regular cast member on Sesame Street, playing the character of Bob Johnson. Along with series matriarch Susan Robinson, played by Loretta Long, McGrath was one of the two longest-lasting human characters on the series since the show’s debut. A Noggin segment proclaimed the four decades of Bob when promoting Sesame Street on that network. In July 2016, Sesame Workshop announced that McGrath would not return to the show for its 47th season because it would be re-tooling the series, but the company did say that McGrath would continue to represent the Workshop at public events. Sesame Workshop later announced that there would be talks to bring him back. Sesame Workshop said that he would still represent Sesame Street. Although McGrath had not been in any new material since season 45, he subsequently appeared in online videos for the show. He also returned for the 2019 TV special Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.

McGrath said that his two favorite moments on Sesame Street were Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (a 1978 Christmas special that included a pastiche of “The Gift of the Magi“), and the 1983 sequence that candidly addressed the death of longtime character Mr. Hooper, played by his good friend Will Lee who had died the previous year.


McGrath and his wife Ann married in 1958. They had five children, five granddaughters, and three grandsons. The couple resided in Teaneck, New Jersey from 1958 until 2017 when they moved to a ranch in Norwood, New Jersey.

McGrath died from complications of a stroke at his home in New Jersey on December 4, 2022, at the age of 90.

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