Once upon a time, I got to talk to Bob from Sesame Street on the phone and it remains as one of my top moments as a broadcaster.
I share this story, of course, in the wake of the news of the passing of Bob McGrath, the actor who portrayed Bob on Sesame Street from the show’s debut in 1969 through its retooling in 2016. McGrath was 90 when he passed away on Sunday, December 4. But to those of us who grew up as Sesame Street kids, he was ageless.
I was in the prime Sesame Street-viewing demographic in the late ’70s and early ’80s. By that time, the program had established itself as the gold standard for kid’s TV, educational or otherwise. It was Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, then everything else, as far as I was concerned. And if you were a Sesame Street kid like me, you know the human actors might as well have been family.
That’s always how I felt about Bob. Any time he was on screen, his warmth was palpable. He was always friendly and he had the nicest singing voice. Years later, my Uncle Michael blew my mind one Christmas Eve when he showed me an old Mitch Miller holiday special. Who was that in the choir? Why, it was Bob! I’ve shared the clip below.
Remembering Bob From Sesame Street
So we’ve established my love for Sesame Street and for Bob. So you can imagine when, in the late ’90s when I was on Northeastern’s WRBB, I got a press release offering Bob McGrath of Sesame Street for an interview. I don’t even remember what he was promoting, I only remember jumping at the chance to talk to him.
The press contact sent me Bob’s home phone number–his home number!–and I called him one Wednesday afternoon around 5, when my show went on the air. He had just sat down to dinner with his family, but graciously took my call out in the hall of his house and answered every trivial, silly question I threw his way.
I’m sure I still have that interview somewhere. I’m sure listening to it now would make me cringe. Well, my parts of the interview. Not Bob’s. You see, Bob was my friend when I was small. He helped me learn and sang to me and even though he lived a full and wonderful life, I’m sad that he’s gone. I’ve shared some of my favorite Bob moments below, along side that Mitch Miller Christmas bit I had mentioned. I’ve shared them for you, if you miss Bob, too.