R.I.P. Bob McGrath, original cast member of Sesame Street
Often seen in scenes with Oscar the Grouch, McGrath was a person ''in the neighborhood'' for over five decades.
Bob McGrath, best known as original friendly neighbor Bob Johnson on Sesame Street, died Sunday Dec. 4, 2022 at the age of 90, according to CNN.
Sesame Workshop and McGrath's family confirmed the passing on various social media platforms.
According to CNN, a family statement posted to Facebook read, "The McGrath family has some sad news to share. Our father Bob McGrath, passed away... He died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family."
McGrath spent almost 50 years involved with the classic children's program. Beginning with the Sesame Street pilot in 1969, McGrath was one of the people "in the neighborhood" for the first 47 seasons of the show, stepping away in 2017. Even after his departure from the show, McGrath could be seen promoting it at public events.
McGrath contributed to Sesame Street in more ways than just playing the role of Bob Johnson. He was a key part in creating some of the show's most recognizable songs such as "People in Your Neighborhood" and "Sing a Song."
McGrath's influence on Sesame Street will be an everlasting one according to Sesame Workshop, which released the following statement on Twitter.
"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 the neighborhood, or the simple joy of feeling music in their hearts," the statement said in part. "A revered performer worldwide, Bob's rich tenor filled airwaves and concert halls from Las Vegas to Saskatchewan to Tokyo many times over."
McGrath, one of the four non-Muppet characters, shared plenty of scenes with Oscar the Grouch, but wasn't initially thrilled at the idea of joining a television show made for children.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, McGrath was asked by a former fraternity brother at the University of Michigan, who happended to be in charge of production at Children's Television Workshop, if he wanted to be a part of a new kids series. McGrath said, "Not in the least."
After a few months, the former frat brother, David Connell, reached out once more, this time with a few "test pieces featuring Jim Henson's Muppets."
"It took me about 2 minutes before realizing that I wanted to do this show more than anything else I could ever think of," McGrath said in a 2015 interview with Kids Can Groove.
That realization became reality, as McGrath's legacy on Sesame Street spoke for itself for five decades, and will continue to speak for itself going forward.
"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 from Sesame Workshop concluded.