Birthday Boy: SESAME STREET’s Bob McGrath Turns 81!

Robin Marchant/Getty Images
Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Moms, we have something to tell you. You may want to sit down for this. Today is June 13th. Do you know what that means? That means it’s Bob McGrath’s birthday. No big deal, right? Wrong. It’s Bob McGrath’s 81st birthday. Yes, you read that right. Bob McGrath, one of the best things to happen to Sesame Street, is now 81 years old. No, we don’t know where the time went.

Bob began his musical career at the University of Michigan — Go Blue! — where he was a member of the men’s glee club and a music major. That didn’t quite come as a shock to us. Bob moved on to television in the form of Sing Along with Mitch, a show on NBC hosted by record industry executive Mitch Miller–who was a popular figure in pre-Beatles America with his wholesome show. Miller was kind of like a Lawrence Welk who knew jazz musicians.

Bob’s success in the musical world merely demonstrates his undeniable talent, and we’re just lucky he decided to devote the rest of his life to helping and educating kids around the world. As it turns out, though, Bob McGrath was an international figure even before Sesame Street. He used his time with Mitch Miller to become a big star in Japan. Seriously. He was the guy who took Irish ballads and folk songs, translated them into Japanese, and released hugely popular albums. Bob also recorded the theme to the James Bond movie Thunderball for the Japanese audience– if you’re wondering about a Bob McGrath/Tom Jones connection.

What else can moms thank Bob McGrath for? Not only did he appear on Sesame Street for decades, but he’s also the published author of two children’s books: Uh oh! Gotta Go!  and Oops! Excuse Me Please! The titles are pretty self-explanatory, and it’s clear that Mr. McGrath is trying to teach your kids a few valuable lessons through his work.

But we all know the real reason we’re here celebrating Bob McGrath’s birthday. It’s not because of his time on Sing Along with Mitch, and it’s not because his popularity in Japan (although, we admit it, that’s pretty cool). Bob McGrath is a Sesame Street staple — now and then. And we don’t mean “then” as in ten years ago. We mean “then” as in forty years ago. Your parents love him, you love him, and your kids love him. Find us someone else who fits that description.

And, of course, you can’t properly celebrate the man’s birthday without some clips from his time on Sesame Street. We’ve included two of our favorite songs of his below. Watch them with your kids! That’s what he’s here for.