Sesame Street Original Cast Member Bob “Johnson” McGrath Has Died At The Age of 90; Was UofM Alumni
Sesame Street has sadly lost another member of the Neighborhood this week. Michigan alum, Bob McGrath, aka "Bob Johnson" on Sesame Street, has died at the age of 90.
Bob was one of the original members of the Sesame Street cast, added in 1969, but his career after attending the University of Michigan wasn't just about Muppets and Big Birds.
Sesame Street workshop issued the following statement on Bob's death:
"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."
Born on June 13, 1932, then Bob McGrath (his real name) was a native of Ottawa Illinois. From an early age, he was musically talented, often singing for his parents, while his mother played piano.
When he reached college, he (smartly) chose the University of Michigan as his eventual alma mater. He was a member of the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club, Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. He graduated and was inducted into the U.S. Army, where he spent two years in Germany, booking and performing for the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra.
McGrath then took his talents to Japan, where he became a fairly successful recording artist, releasing a series of Successful albums of Irish and other folk songs and ballads sung in Japanese. This part of his life was largely kept a secret until an appearance on "To Tell the Truth" in 1966," and then again on "I've Got a Secret" in 1967, where he told the world about his early career as a singer.
But of course, we all know Bob as "Bob Johnson," on Sesame Street. He was one of the first regular cast members on the show, alongside Gordon Robinson, Mr. Harold Hooper, and Loretta Long, who played "Susan Robinson."
Bob was with the show until 2016, and said in an interview two of his favorite moments on the show were Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (a special that aired in 1978), and a sequence in 1983 that addressed the death of longtime character Mr. Hooper, who was played by his real-life friend Will Lee, who had died the year before.