Bob McGrath was supposed to be at this photo op at EternalCon 2019 but his plane was late so they did it without him. He was one of those guys I was really hyped to meet. 🙁
Bob McGrath started becoming interested in music at 5 years old. His family bought him a piano when his grandmother moved into another house. Bob’s mom was also a pianist, inspiring Bob’s initial interest in music. He was involved in music plays and competitions while in high school— he even worked at a radio station in an adjacent town. After attending the University of Michigan as a voice major, McGrath worked in Germany as part of the 7th Army Symphony. He later chose to pursue a voice major at the University of Michigan. McGrath briefly belonged to a four-piece ensemble before embarking on a tour of France. After that, he relocated to New York and became a member of another quartet.
Mitch Miller, a singer/record producer, formed the Mitch Miller Singers in 1959. One of Miller’s long-term tenors had to bow out in December of that year, and McGrath joined the chorus “The Sing Along Gang.” He got his first chance to perform a solo on a March Day show. As part of this show, he amazed audiences with his voice as well as Miller himself. After the show ended in 1964, its staff and cast performed at Japan and Las Vegas concerts.
Bobu Magurasu is the childhood nickname of Bob McGrath, who became popular as a musician while on a tour with Miller. He released over 30 hit singles before releasing eight albums that went on to sell out stadiums. Instead of pursuing fame as a pop star, he chose to move to Japan and continue recording and touring. Three years later, many companies offered him a job.
McGrath learned about the Sesame Street casting call from a friend. He thought the show’s concept was strange and was unsure if he would want to be a part of it. Nonetheless, he accepted Will Lee, Matt Robinson and Loretta Long into the cast.
McGrath chose the name Bobby when he joined the cast. He chose this name because he thought it would be easier to respond to than names like Ted or Jack. However, McGrath requested that the “by” be removed from the name Bobby.
McGrath occasionally lent his voice to some Muppet song inserts. One of the brothers in “Five People In My Family” had a trumpet player song insert voiced by McGrath. Additionally, he voiced the trumpet player in “I Am A Fine Musician.”
Bob McGrath and Will Lee shared a dressing room. McGrath claims that Lee taught him many important life lessons, such as the importance of maintaining the integrity of the children they work with.
In 1982, Lee died and created a problem for producers. They looked into several ideas and a lot of research before coming up with a solution in the final episode of the year— 1839. This is considered to be one of the most significant moments in the Sesame Street history because McGrath found it moving when he explained it to him.
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We agonized over the difficult scene, wondering if we could ever finish it. After some practice, we convinced ourselves that we could pull it off. We even managed to record the scene without any feeling— but then we let some emotion into our performance when we prepared for a second take. Our second attempt at the scene was so short-lived that we barely got through it.
The Gift of the Magi scene from Christmas Eve on Sesame Street and Sesame Street’s parody of it are cited by McGrath as his two favorite moments on the show. He also appeared in most of the other Sesame specials as well as both theatrical films, Follow That Bird and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.
In an interview with one newspaper, he noted that his 2011 season schedule and season size were more akin to a hobby. He stated that he enjoyed doing the work since it was still fun and provided him with a good place to work. As compared to other seasons, there was significantly less of a sense of community in his experience. They minimize the number of live participants per segment. That doesn’t mean I’m being negative. My show is still fantastic, but I’m just maintaining a realistic outlook. The show is altered to meet the demands of a different viewership.
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