Bob McGrath

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Bob McGrath
Bob McGrath Sesame Place headshot.jpg
McGrath posing backstage before a Sesame Place concert
Born Robert Emmet McGrath
(1932-06-13) June 13, 1932 (age 83)[1]
Ottawa, Illinois, U.S.
Alma mater University of Michigan
Occupation Actor, singer
Years active 1959–present
Spouse(s) Ann Sperry (1958–present)

Robert Emmet "Bob" McGrath (born June 13, 1932) is an American singer and actor best known for playing original human character Bob Johnson on Sesame Street. He was born in Ottawa, Illinois. McGrath was named for Irish patriot Robert Emmet.

Along with Susan, played by Loretta Long, Bob has been one of the two longest-lasting human characters on the series. A Noggin segment proclaimed the four decades of Bob when promoting Sesame Street on that network.

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.[2]

Early life[edit]

McGrath was born in Ottawa, Illinois on June 13, 1932.

Early career[edit]

McGrath is a 1954 graduate of the University of Michigan's 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. He worked with Mitch Miller and was the featured tenor on Miller's NBC-TV television singalong series Sing Along with Mitch for five seasons from 1959 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 folksongs and ballads sung in Japanese.[3][4] This aspect of his career was the basis of his "secret" when he appeared on the game shows To Tell the Truth in 1966[5] and I've Got a Secret (February 20, 1967).

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 appearance at Telemiracle, where performers at the show paid tribute to him.[6] 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.[7] He was given the Saskatchewan Distinguished Service Award in 2013 by the Premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall.[8]

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.

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.

Personal life[edit]

He and his wife Ann have five children, six granddaughters, and two grandsons. The couple reside in Teaneck, New Jersey.[3][4]


  1. ^ "Today in history". The New York Times. Associated Press. 2014-06-13. Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ a b "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.
  4. ^ a b Bob McGrath's Official Website
  5. ^ Bob McGrath on To Tell the Truth on YouTube
  6. ^ "Bob McGrath gives tearful goodbye at Telemiracle fundraiser". CBC News. 2015-03-08. Retrieved 2015-03-09. 
  7. ^ "Sesame Street Legend Bob McGrath Receives Centennial Medal". News Releases. Government of Saskatchewan. 2006-03-03. Retrieved 2013-03-01. 
  8. ^ Adam, Betty Ann (2013-03-01). "McGrath receives Sask. honour". The StarPhoenix (Postmedia Network). Retrieved 2013-03-01. 

External links[edit]