As the Children’s & Family Emmys took a moment to remember talent in the genre who had passed away this year, the ceremony paid special tribute to two “Sesame Street” icons who have recently died: Emilio Delgado and Bob McGrath.
“Sesame Street” star Alan Muraoka, who has been with the show since 1998, and “Sesame Street” puppeteer Martin P. Robinson (Mr. Snuffleupagus, Telly Monster, Slimey the Worm), shared the stage at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Sunday to share their memories of Delgado and McGrath.
“The human characters on Sesame Street were created to represent many things for a child, a parent, a problem solver, an empathetic listener, and most importantly, a trusted friend,” Muraoka said. “I had the honor and privilege of working with Bob McGrath and Emilio Delgado, since I arrived at ‘Sesame Street’ 25 years ago. From day one, I saw how they used kindness as their superpower. We the humans of ‘Sesame Street,’ as we had come to affectionately call ourselves are the public face of the show. And I learned from both Emilio and Bob, that our jobs didn’t end when we left our fictional Street. I witnessed their care, their empathy, their tenderness, whenever we were out in public and ran into a parent, child, or an enthusiastic adult who had grown up watching them on their TV. They would talk take selfies, sign autographs, and most importantly, take the time to listen to what each person had to say. I became their student and I will continue to pass on the lessons that they have taught me.”
Added Robinson: “I was the new guy 41 years ago. And Emilio and Bob welcomed me in. So nice. And Emilio you couldn’t believe how kind and how wonderful this guy was. And I thought how is he going to maintain this? And it had nothing to do with maintaining anything. He was the man that you saw on ‘Sesame Street.’ He was that kind, that effusive, that positive. He used to joke about before ‘Sesame Street’ he would be cast as heavies, criminals, addicts, even the occasional Indigenous American. And finally he got cast on ‘Sesame Street’ and he could be himself. And he was himself — that wonderful, wonderful man.
“Bob McGrath, on the other hand, nothing but trouble,” he quipped. “He was the best straight man we could ever work with. Surrounded by Muppet crazies pulling on him, jerking him around. We just never gave any of the humans a moment of peace. And they would dress them up in the most, Bob triangle pants. When you’re later on YouTube. It’s there. Look at that. It’s just a little gem and then they would dress them up as the teensy weensy spider and he had to claim the waterspout and a tugboat. And my dear wife wrote a bit with him as a broccoli. And he came out on set dressed head to toe as a broccoli and went to her and said, ‘thank you, this is gonna be so much fun.’ We will miss these two gentlemen. It was wonderful to work with them. But know that they were as you saw them. And they were loved at home by their families. They were loved on the street where they worked. And they were loved by the community and the world at large. So here’s to them.”
McGrath, one of the original human actors on the children’s show, died on Dec. 4 at his home in New Jersey. He was 90 years old.
He first starred in the series pilot in 1969 as “Sesame Street’s” friendly neighbor Bob Johnson. He remained on the show for five decades and 47 seasons. He concluded his tenure in 2017, but remained associated with the show and continued to make appearances at “Sesame Street” events.
Delgado died earlier this year in March at the age of 81. For 44 years, the actor appeared on the comedy series as the neighborhood’s good-natured shop owner Luis Rodriguez. He is credited in 428 episodes. Delgado frequently led Spanish-language learning and Hispanic cultural lessons, and often sang and performed guitar during musical segments.