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Sesame Street original cast member Bob McGrath dies aged 90

Bob McGrath looks at the Cookie Monster as they accept the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sesame Street at the Daytime Emmy Awards in 2009 (AP)
Bob McGrath looks at the Cookie Monster as they accept the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sesame Street at the Daytime Emmy Awards in 2009 (AP)

Sesame Street has paid tribute to cast member Bob McGrath, who was a “beloved member” of the show for more than 50 years, following his death aged 90.

The actor, musician and children’s author, who was known as one of the first non-Muppet regular characters on the US children’s show, died peacefully at his home, his family confirmed.

A statement shared on his official Facebook said: “The McGrath family has some sad news to share. Our father Bob McGrath, passed away today. He died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family.”

McGrath was a founding cast member when Sesame Street premiered in 1969, playing Bob Johnson, a friendly neighbour to puppet characters including Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, Grover, and Elmo.

He made his final appearance in 2017, marking an almost five-decade-long career in the Sesame Street world.

A statement from Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organisation behind the show, said: “Sesame Workshop mourns the passing of Bob McGrath, a beloved member of the Sesame Street family for over 50 years.

“A founding cast member, 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 their neighbourhood, or the simple joy of feeling music in their hearts.

“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 honoured that he shared so much of his life with us.”

McGrath, who grew up in Illinois and studied music at the University of Michigan, was also a singer in the 60s series Sing Along With Mitch and launched a successful music career in Japan.

US actress Holly Robinson Peete, the daughter of Sesame Street actor and producer Matt Robinson, also shared a tribute to McGrath on social media.

She said: “This news has me wrecked! I first met Bob McGrath in 1969 when my father and him starred together on #SesameStreet. He was the guy you saw on TV.

“The nicest, sweetest, kindest man. The first time my brother and I got to be on Sesame Street we had this scene with him. Rest in peace, Bob McGrath. You were so loved all over the world.”

McGrath is survived by his wife, Ann Logan Sperry, and their five children.