Sesame Street Composer Donald Siegel Dead at 53

Donald Alan Siegal, a composer-lyricist for television, recordings and the stage, died of leukemia Tuesday in Los Angeles at U.C.L.A. Medical Center. The 53-year-old artist was also a past contributor to Animation Magazine.

Animation enthusiasts and fans of kids’ TV may know Siegal’s work quite well. He wrote more than fifty songs as a staff writer for Captain Kangaroo, and collaborated with Jim Henson on songs for Sesame Street’s guest artists and major Muppet characters, including Ernie, Kermit, Oscar, Big Bird and The Count.

Siegal also wrote music and lyrics for songs performed by Trisha Yearwood in the Disney/ABC animated TV special The Tangerine Bear, and crafted stories and songs for Warner Bros.’ Frosty the Snowman.

The 1972 graduate of New York University studied at the Berklee College of Music and the Mannes College of Music. As a member of Lehman Engel’s BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, Siegal fund himself in stellar company with the likes of Alan Menken, Maury Yeston, Edward Kleban and Susan Birkenhead. He would later collaborate with Birkenhead on a number of projects, including the 1978 NBC children’s TV special Alex and the Wonderful DooWah Lamp, part of the Emmy Award-winning series Unicorn Tales, and the stage musical A Long Way to Boston with Nancy Dussault and Rita Gardner, produced at the Goodspeed Opera House in 1979.

At the time of his death, Siegal was working on a musical comedy with Ron Clark, and a musical drama with Arthur Kopit.