Tuesday, December 6, 2022

RIP Bob McGrath

Bob McGrath passed away.  Who was Bob McGrath?  He was one of the original cast on "Sesame Street".  He was the one who reminded me of a friend and coworker of my dad.  That's why he stood out in my mind as a child.

I was never a big Sesame Street fan.  I didn't watch much TV growing up.  As a kid, the only 'must see' kid's show for me was an old Japanese cartoon called 'Kimba the White Lion."   In the evenings I watched reruns of "Hogan's Heroes" and "Combat!"   Otherwise there wasn't much must-see television for me. 

But Mr. McGrath holds a special place in my memories.  When I turned five, my parents moved from our house in the country and bought a house in town.  It was actually the house that was a nursery school my parents took me to the year before.  A small little ranch next to a hive of troublemaking kids.  My days of quiet and carefree fun in the county had come to an end. 

It was right before Christmas, and I remember looking out the back sliding door at the row of snow covered houses facing away from us beyond our back yard.  I remember the smoke coming out of their chimneys in a scene straight out of a Hallmark greeting card.  Living in the country, I wasn't used to seeing that many houses in one place.  Dad was busy working to improve the house we hadn't settled into yet.  Mom was consoling me since it was a big move.  The only house I could remember was a thing of the past.

To help, they got me, among other things that year, a record of Sesame Street sing-alongs.  The first song on the record?  "People in Your Neighborhood" by none other than Mr. McGrath.  I can still see that little record player, and the primary colored record spinning as McGrath introduced us to policemen, mailmen, and others whose names would eventually need changed.  

Again, I never watched Sesame Street much.  For that matter I was one of the few in my school who didn't sit clued to the TV when "The Muppet Show" was all the rage.  Just not my cup of tea.  But I appreciated what it was in its early days and the genius that went behind its creation.  Beyond that, one part is forever engrained in my childhood memories, and that just happened to involve Mr. Bob McGrath.

So RIP Mr McGrath, and thanks for the memory.  


  1. The former program was a PBS offering by the Children's Television Workshop (which recruited Jim Henson's crew). Sesame Street is the last survivor of a trio of programs produced by the Workshop for different age groups which debuted between 1968 and 1973. Fred Rogers' program was produced by a different crew under his direction.

    The latter was a syndicated entertainment program produced by Henson himself.

    The Muppets can be enjoyed by just about anyone. We have some old DVDs. As for the other four programs, see Fran Leibowitz on educational television.

  2. Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo) was on commercial television for 30 years, with Hugh Brannum and puppeteer Cosmo Allegretti as his sidekicks nearly all that time. Bob Homme's program (The Friendly Giant) was produced on Canadian television and syndicated in the United States. You also had The CBS Children's Film Festival introduced by Fran Allison with Burr Tillstrom as puppeteer. There was always something goofy and embarrassing about the CTW offerings and Fred Rogers' work not found in these other programs.

    1. I remember Captain Kangaroo. For one year my family movied outside of town - when I was 3rd grade. The CK show came on right before the bus came. So I came to associate the opening theme (Good morning captain!) with knowing it's time to get up and watch for the bus. But otherwise, I wasn't much of a kids show viewer. My sister watched more of such shows (I remember a show called Romper Room). But me? Not much.

    2. My sister watched more of such shows (I remember a show called Romper Room). But me? Not much.

      Romper Room was a franchise, rather like Bozo the Clown. A local program was produced for each market. IIRC, the host was always female and it was pitched to age 3.

    3. Ah, I did not know that. I always wondered how old Bozo - who appeared on local stations - was known all over America. Romper Room was before my time (or that is when my sister - who is almost 9 years my senior - would have liked it). I remember my sister and parents talking about it in later years. I think I might have seen it when I was young. Again, didn't usually dwell on television for kids. IIRC, my sister talked of some mirror or looking glass she would use. That's about the extent of my grasp of it.

  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjPYeloMx7s

    McGrath in 1966, pre Sesame Street. He was earning a living as a performer.


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