Sesame Street Co-creator Lloyd Morrisett Dies Aged 93

Lloyd Morrisett, co-creator of beloved children’s TV show Sesame Street, has died at age 93.

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Lloyd Morrisett and Joan Ganz Cooney pose for a photograph surrounded by puppets

Lloyd Morrisett, co-creator of the beloved children’s TV show Sesame Street, has died aged 93. The news was announced Tuesday by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind the show. No cause of death was released in the statement. 

“A Lifetime Honorary Trustee, Lloyd leaves an outsized and indelible legacy among generations of children the world over, with Sesame Street only the most visible tribute to a lifetime of good work and lasting impact,” Sesame Workshop’s statement said. Morrisett was a co-founder of Sesame Workshop, previously named the Children’s Television Workshop. 

Since the first episode aired in 1969, Sesame Street has served as one of the most prominent children’s TV shows focused on early education, assimilation, and self-confidence in children. They made this happen through an abundant representation of characters and real-world conversations. 

Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

Morrisett was working for the Carnegie Corporation, an institution devoted to the advancement of education in the U.S. when he recognized that children from disadvantaged backgrounds were entering school months behind their grade level. Sesame Street was created to bridge that gap by using television as a way to capture children’s attention and prepare them for school. 

One of Sesame Street’s initial focus areas was literacy, with several early episodes being dedicated to learning the A-B-Cs and numbers. Debuting in the very first episode, Big Bird was more than just a curious, 8-foot-2-inch tall bird; he couldn’t read or write and learned the alphabet one episode at a time. Throughout the show, several characters read aloud their favorite books to promote reading and the adventures you experience when you read a book. 

In 1971, the first Sesame Street book was published by Random House. Sesame Workshop currently oversees the publication of around 100 new Sesame Street titles each year from 14 different publishers. 

50 years on, Sesame Street and Sesame Workshop continue to impact millions of children and families across the world, shaping childhoods through fun yet powerful conversations and skits every episode. 

“Without Lloyd Morrisett, there would be no Sesame Street,” said Joan Ganz Cooney, Sesame Street co-founder and long-time friend of Morrisett. 

“It was he who first came up with the notion of using television to teach preschoolers basic skills, such as letters and numbers. He was a trusted partner and loyal friend to me for over fifty years, and he will be sorely missed.” 

Joan Ganz Cooney

Morrisett himself received an extensive education, receiving his B.A. from Oberlin College, a Master’s degree from UCLA, and a Ph.D. from Yale University in experiential psychology. 

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FEATURED IMAGE VIA Zach Hyman / Patrick McMullan VIA GETTY IMAGES