‘Sesame Street’ Co-Creator Lloyd Morrisett Dies Age 93

Lloyd N. Morrisett Jr., PhD, the co-creator of pioneering children’s television classic Sesame Street , has died at 93 years of age. The news was shared Monday by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind the iconic show, which Morrisett co-founded with fellow series creator Joan Ganz Cooney in 1968.

“Without Lloyd Morrisett, there would be no Sesame Street,” Cooney shared in the official Twitter thread. “It was he who  first came up with the notion of using television to teach preschoolers basic skills, such as letters and number. He was a trusted partner and loyal friend to me for over 50 years, and he will be sorely missed.”

Sesame Workshop remembered Morrisett, who received a Philosophy degree form Oberlin College in 1951 before attaining his doctorate in Experimental Psychology from Yale, as leaving “an outsized and indelible legacy among generations of children the world over.” Morrisett had been a Lifetime Honorary Trustee of the org since retiring as chairman of the board in 2000.

Morrisett brought his work in early education as a member of the philanthropic Carnegie Corporation to the entertainment business  in the mid-1960s, when he noticed that his three-year-old daughter was fascinated by television. He thought that the catchy ad jingles she had memorized could work as a new kind of learning tool. This inspired Cooney to write a report on The Potential Uses of Television in Pre-School Education, and the duo secured funding to start up Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop).

Sesame Street, starring kid-friendly characters from Muppets creator Jim Henson, premiered in fall of 1969, and has been on the air ever since. The puppet, live-action and animation variety show has run for a whopping 53 seasons (more than 4,600 episodes) and has been adapted to serve children all over the world. As of 2021, it had won 205 Emmy Awards (more than any other television series) and won for Outstanding Preschool Series and Best Original Song at December’s 1st Annual Children’s & Family Emmys.

As early as 1970, the show had inked deals to air in English-speaking Canada and for U.S. military families in 16 different countries. By the 50th anniversary of Sesame Street in 2019, the gentle and entertaining antics of Big Bird (or one of his many cousins) and co. were available to 190 million children in over 160 localized versions in 70 languages.

[Sources: Sesame Workshop, Variety, Davis Michaels’ Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street]

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