Robert Emmet "Bob" McGrath (born June 13, 1932) is an American singer and actor best known for playing original human character Bob Johnson on the long-running educational television series, Sesame Street. He was born in Ottawa, Illinois. McGrath was named for Irish patriot Robert Emmet.
Along with Susan, played by Loretta Long, Bob had been one of the two longest-lasting human characters on the series since the show's debut. A Noggin segment proclaimed the four decades of Bob when promoting Sesame Street on that network. In July 2016, Sesame Workshop announced that McGrath would not return to the show for its 47th season because they would be re-tooling the series, but they did say that McGrath would continue to represent them at public events. Sesame Workshop later announced that there'd be talks to bring him back.
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.
McGrath was born in Ottawa, Illinois on June 13, 1932.
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, where during fraternity events, he washed dishes while fraternity brother David Connell waited tables; a connection which Connell would use when casting began for Sesame Street. 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 folk songs and ballads sung in Japanese. This aspect of his career was the basis of his "secret" when he appeared on the game shows To Tell the Truth in 1966 and I've Got a Secret (February 20, 1967).
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. 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. He was given the Saskatchewan Distinguished Service Award in 2013 by the Premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall.
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.
He and his wife Ann have five children, six granddaughters, and two grandsons. The couple resides in Teaneck, New Jersey.