There’s no doubt that our favorite TV shows played a big role in our childhoods. From Fred Rogers to LeVar Burton to Bill Nye, we have always held the adults behind kids’ shows in extremely high regard. Furthermore, no kids’ show has quite achieved the multi-generational appeal that Sesame Street continues to maintain. That’s why, for so many of us, the news of two of the show’s biggest non-puppet stars’ deaths hit especially hard this year. That’s why we’ve done some digging to find out where many of the early human characters Sesame Street are today.
We Lost Emilio Delgado And Bob McGrath This Year
In 2022, we mourned two of the early human cast members of Sesame Street: Emilio Delgado and Bob McGrath. Delgado joined Sesame Street in 1971 during the show’s third season. During his 45 years on the show, he portrayed Luis, a handyman who ran “The Fix-It Shop,” a repair service on Sesame Street. Delgado worked both on the TV show and off to encourage English-speaking children to learn Spanish. He sadly passed away from multiple myeloma on March 10, 2022, at the age of 81.
Bob McGrath was actually part of the original Sesame Street cast from 1969. During his time on the show, he portrayed Bob Johnson, Sesame Street’s resident music teacher. He helped create many of the show’s best-known songs. McGrath was a member of the main cast until 2016, but he represented the show for years following his departure. McGrath passed away from stroke-related complications on December 5, 2022, at 90 years old.
Matt Robinson Died In 2002
Unfortunately, Delgado and McGrath weren’t the first human cast members that Sesame Street fans have had to bid goodbye to over the years. Matt Robinson joined the original cast of Sesame Street after initially working on the show behind the scenes. He portrayed the character Gordon Robinson until 1972 before handing off the role to another actor.
While he preferred not to be in the spotlight, Robinson worked closely with the Children’s Television Workshop and Jim Henson himself to increase diversity on Sesame Street. Robinson helped the puppeteer to create many of the show’s minority-based Muppets. Robinson sadly died from Parkinson’s disease on August 5, 2002, at only 65 years old, but his legacy lives on in the show to this day.
Loretta Long Was On The Show For 47 Years
While many of the show’s original cast members have passed on, Loretta Long is still alive today. Long joined Sesame Street in its very first season. She portrayed the character Susan Robinson until 2016. Per her LinkedIn, Long earned her Ph.D. in urban education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1973 while still working on Sesame Street. She actually wrote her dissertation about the show and called it “‘Sesame Street’: A Space Age Approach to Education for Space Age Kids.” She turned 84 in October and currently lives a quiet life.
Sonia Manzano Still Works In Kids’ TV
Like Emilio Delgado, Sonia Manzano joined Sesame Street in the show’s third season. She portrayed the character Maria on the show from 1971 to 2015, although she reprised her role in the Sesame Street 50th Anniversary Celebration. Throughout her career, she worked as an actress, author, and humanitarian. She also worked as a scriptwriter on Sesame Street. She currently serves as the creator, producer, and writer of the PBS show Alma’s Way—a production that, per the New York Times, is loosely inspired by Manzano’s own life.
Linda Bove Was The First Deaf Cast Member
Linda Bove made history as the first deaf actress to be a part of Sesame Street‘s recurring cast. Bove played the character Linda the Librarian, named after herself, from 1971 to 2002. She has been celebrated for her work to break boundaries as a deaf person in the acting industry. She also helped author a Sesame Street-themed educational sign-language book for children called Sign Language ABC with Linda Bove. It seems like Bove is enjoying retirement these days; her last TV credit was for the Sesame Street 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2019. The show has continued to honor her cause to this day.
Will Lee Died In 1982
Will Lee joined Sesame Street in 1969 as a member of the original cast. During his 13 years on the show, he portrayed Mr. Hooper, the proprietor of Hooper’s Store. Unlike Delgado and McGrath, Lee sadly passed away while he was still an active cast member of the show.
However, instead of recasting Mr. Hooper, the show made the monumental decision to write his death into the show. What resulted was a powerful and heartbreaking moment for children as Sesame Street helped teach them about death and loss. Like many of his castmates who have now passed on, Lee touched so many young hearts during his time on the show.