Bob McGrath

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Bob McGrath
Bob McGrath 2014.jpg
McGrath at the Chiller Theatre Expo in 2014
Born (1932-06-13) June 13, 1932 (age 90)[1]
Alma materUniversity of Michigan Manhattan School of Music
  • Actor
  • singer
  • musician
  • author
Years active1959–present
Ann Logan Sperry
(m. 1958)

Robert Emmett "Bob" McGrath (born June 13, 1932) is an American actor, singer, musician, and children's author best known for playing original human character Bob Johnson on the long running educational television series Sesame Street.

Along with series matriarch Susan Robinson, played by Loretta Long, Bob had been 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.[2][3] Sesame Workshop said that he would still represent Sesame Street.[4] Although McGrath has not been in any new material since season 45, he has subsequently appeared in online videos for the show.

McGrath has 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.[5]

Early life[edit]

McGrath was born on June 13, 1932 in Ottawa, Illinois. He was named for Irish patriot Robert Emmet. As a child, he would sing for his family while his mother would play the piano. His mother enrolled him in the Roxy Theater’s Amateur Program, where he came in second place. He graduated from Marquette High School. [6]

McGrath graduated from University of Michigan in 1954 where he was in School of Music. While attending Michigan, he was a member of the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club and of the fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta, where during fraternity events, he washed dishes while fraternity brother David Connell waited tables, a connection which Connell would use when casting began for Sesame Street. After graduating, he was inducted in to the U.S. Army, where he spent 2 years in Germany, booking and performing for the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra.[7]

He obtained a Master of Music degree in Voice, from Manhattan School of Music in 1959. [8]


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.[9][10] This aspect of his career was the basis of his "secret" when he appeared on the game shows To Tell the Truth in 1966[11] and I've Got a Secret in 1967.[12] From 1969 to 2016, McGrath was a regular cast member on Sesame Street, playing the character of Bob Johnson.

Other accomplishments[edit]

For 38 years, McGrath was a regular fixture on Telemiracle, a telethon broadcast annually on CTV outlets in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. 2015 was his final regular appearance at Telemiracle, where performers at the show paid tribute to him.[13] He returned for a special appearance in 2018.[14] On March 3, 2006, he was awarded the Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan for this work by the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, Lynda Haverstock.[15] He was given the Saskatchewan Distinguished Service Award in 2013 by the Premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall.[16]

He has written many children's books, including Uh Oh! Gotta Go! and OOPS! Excuse Me Please!

In 1995, he was awarded a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.[citation needed]

McGrath's Sing Me a Story was nominated for the 7th Annual Independent Music Awards for children's album of the year.

On April 10, 2010, he was the first recipient of the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club Lifetime Achievement Award. McGrath also served as master of ceremonies at the Glee Club's 150th anniversary celebration weekend.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

He and his wife Ann married in 1958. They have five children, five granddaughters, and three grandsons. The couple resides in Teaneck, New Jersey and have a ranch in Norwood.[17]


Year Title Role Notes
1960–1964 Sing Along with Mitch Singer
1966 To Tell the Truth Himself 1 episode
1967 I've Got a Secret Himself 1 episode
1969–2016 Sesame Street Bob Johnson
1978 Christmas Eve on Sesame Street TV special
1985 Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird
1996 Elmo Saves Christmas TV special
1999 The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland
2007 3:10 to Yuma Singer on Radio Program
2013 Little Children, Big Challenges Bob Johnson Episode: "Incarceration"
2014 I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story Documentary film
2019 Sesame Street's 50th Anniversary Celebration Bob Johnson TV special
2021 Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street Himself Documentary film


  1. ^ "Today in history". The New York Times. Associated Press. June 13, 2014. Archived from the original on July 16, 2015. Retrieved June 13, 2014. Today's Birthdays: Actor Bob McGrath is 82.
  2. ^ Jones, Kevin L. (July 27, 2016). "'Sesame Street' Lets Go Longtime Cast Members Bob, Gordon and Luis". KQED Public Media for Northern California. Retrieved July 28, 2016.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Lujan, Adam (July 28, 2016). "Sesame Street let go three longtime cast members". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 28, 2016.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Murphy, Mike. "McGrath carrying on after being released from 'Sesame Street'". The Times. Retrieved January 2, 2018.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ "Healing power of music; 'Sesame Street's' Bob McGrath and singer Ayla Brown raise voices for Songs of Love. - Free Online Library".
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Alumni: Awards".
  9. ^ "Irish Tenor From Teaneck Is the Toast of Tokyo; Bob McGrath Specializes in Japanese Folk Ballads to Flute Accompaniment", The New York Times, July 5, 1967. Accessed December 30, 2007.
  10. ^ Bob McGrath's Official Website Archived January 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Bob McGrath on To Tell the Truth on YouTube
  12. ^ Bob McGrath on I've Got a Secret on YouTube
  13. ^ "Bob McGrath gives tearful goodbye at Telemiracle fundraiser". CBC News. March 8, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  14. ^ White-Crummey, Arthur (March 4, 2018). "Telemiracle smashes record with more than $7.1 million in donations". Leader-Post.
  15. ^ "Sesame Street Legend Bob McGrath Receives Centennial Medal". News Releases. Government of Saskatchewan. March 3, 2006. Archived from the original on March 11, 2013. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  16. ^ Adam, Betty Ann (March 1, 2013). "McGrath receives Sask. honour". The StarPhoenix. Postmedia Network. Retrieved March 1, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "How they got to 'Sesame Street': Interview with original cast member from NJ, Bob McGrath".

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