Sesame Street’s Bob McGrath (’54) Returns for Homecoming

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Michigan Fiji Bob McGrath, marked his 50th year since graduation with his brothers at 707 Oxford. Bob shared stories about TV’s Sesame Street magic that guided our children in their early years. Of course, it lead to singing some Michigan/Fiji songs with fellow Glee Club singer Chris Parker and other Brothers.

You have probably watched the Sesame street characters with you children at one time or another Did you know that the person running around with Big Bird. and Cookie Monster, playing the role of “Bob” is none other than Brother Bob McGrath, Michigan 1954. He has been doing it since the inception of the show, and that is over 35 years I What a wonderful experience listening to Bob spin out the tales describing the incredible planning that has gone into the show, and how it has shifted emphasis over the years. It was clearly a pioneer in television programming for children when it started. They were funny and silly, with goofy characters, just like their counterparts at the time, but they introduced an ingredient that was revolutionary at that time. They actually taught the children educational goodies while they were having fun.
Letters and counting were presented as the kid’s friends, to be learned and liked. They did not shrink from some of the psychological lessons the kids needed to learn about relationships, and how to deal with the issues of social differences. Most of the show themes were tested in focus groups before being presented. so that they could be tuned for most effectively reaching their target audience.
One story that Bob shared took place as they were getting started. They set up 3 TVs in front of a group of children. One side had a typical “kid” show at the time, the middle one had color cartoons, and the third had the Sesame Street presentation they were testing. They watched the kids through a one-way mirror to see which set they were watching. Fortunately, the kids spent most of their time watching the Sesame option, so they felt confident about moving ahead with their concept.
It was easy to see why Bob has been able to stay with the show for such a long time. He brings an awareness, and empathy to a relationship that allows him to present genuine feelings toward his audience. His theatrical and musical talent is only the point of departure for the confidence the children build in what he has to say. We talked about a wide range of experiences from Bob’s early years as a teen idol in Japan (of all places), to the travel his profession has afforded him, to the great talent he has worked with, to the kinds of things his own children and grandchildren have taught him. Kelley and Mary Jean Rea found an enlightening perspective from Bob’s experiences finding his roots in Ireland. When combined with MJ’ s love of travel off the beaten path, such as Bob was able to describe, could lead to some ideas for MJ’ s next book.
Of course, Chris Parker could not resist the chance to sing a few songs with this fellow member of the Michigan Men’s Glee Club. They belted our a few Fiji songs, with Michigan songs, and even a Glee Club ditties as the Brothers joined in the fun. Thanks to the quick thinking of Larry Carter, we have these informally
captured on Video. Click here for their rendition of “Very Fine Girls .. “

This is why we have Homecoming gatherings…

Click here for more about Bob’s fascinating career.

Last modified: December 20, 2023