What About Bob (and Luis and Gordon)?

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?  

I grew up singing that song.  I was there in front of my tv on the very first day the show aired.  Back in the day when Oscar was orange.  (For a long time no one believed me on that, but I had a record album from the show and there was a photo of an orange grouch.  I had proof that no one could comprehend.)  I remember Gordon (the original, Matt Robinson) and Susan and Bob and Mr. Hooper.  Later on there was Luis and Maria and David.  (And Gordon changed from Matt Robinson to Roscoe Gordon...not unlike how Darren changed on Bewitched.  It was another century; we kids could deal with it.)  

There was Big Bird, Ernie and Bert (rubber duckies and bottle cap collections suddenly became hip), Kermit (yes, he was there in the beginning too), Cookie Monster, Harry Monster, Grover and Oscar the Grouch (orange or green; he was grouchy, but somehow not mean).  

I watched it even when I was past the age.  After all my brother watched it.  And as a teen or adult, if you happened to catch part of it while flipping through the channels, why wouldn't you stop and watch a bit?  The characters were comforting.  They are part of our culture and an extension of our family.

As you may have heard that most of the "human" cast was let go this season.  There will still be Alan and Chris (who?  If you haven't watched within the past 10 years or so, you won't know those names), but Luis (Emilio Delgado), Gordon (Roscoe Orman) and Bob (Bob McGrath) are gone.  

There has always been change on Sesame Street.  Mr. Hooper (Will Lee) died.  The show dealt with it in a touching and TEACHING way.  Other cast members have come and gone.  But in recent years more "humans" have gone.  Susan faded away and Maria left the show a year or so ago.  There was less and less "old school" human cast members.  And with no disrespect to any actors on the street, losing Bob seems like a harsh blow.

Bob McGrath was there day one.  Again, I know because I saw him.  (And you can double check me by watching the "classic" DVD that is out there.)  He's been with the show for 45 years...I'm not sure that anyone other than perhaps Carroll Spinney who plays Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch has done that.  (And Mr. Spinney deserves his own special recognition for what he has done, but that's for another time.)  Was he getting too old or too irrelevant to be on the street?  I'm no toddler, but I say NO!  Sesame Street should be a cross section of our world, and has been so in the past.  Sesame Street is not white or black; it is all colors (and creatures) of the rainbow.  Sesame Street shows us that all types can work together and live together.  Bob was part of that.  And he still could be as funny as heck.  (Proof can be found here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HASdmBYHo5Y in this segment of "Cookie World" which shows how Sesame Street was always able to laugh at itself by mocking its own "Elmo's World."  If you can keep from laughing when Cookie Monster calls out to "Mr. Bobble" you need to have your funny bone dusted off.)  It seems to me that Sesame Street should be celebrating Bob (and for that matter Gordon and Luis too) and not shuffling him off.

The show is "evolving" (as it always has) and perhaps going in a different direction. No longer an hour and no longer solely on PBS stations. (HBO airs new episodes which are later moved to PBS, or at least that's how I understand it.)  But it seems pretty callous to me to just toss away actors who have been on the show for 30-40+ years.  They, and former cast members Loretta Long (Susan; also a cast member from day 1) and Sonia Manzano, deserve better than what it seems to me that have gotten.  For all their work and for all those kids that they have inspired and helped, shouldn't they get something?

I know I am way out of the target demographic for Sesame Street.  Maybe I'm an "old lady" for not liking some of the more recent innovations of the show.  I DO miss the Muppet/Human interaction and the banter that there once was that kids and adults would laugh at.  (And I'll be the first to complain that Elmo's World seemed to have taken over the Sesame Street World.)  I just wish the show had in some way PUBLICALLY acknowledged these talented and dedicated individuals.  Maybe as an addendum to the show one morning.  Or even better, creating a special show just for them so that those of us who grew up with them could celebrate their work and maybe even cry a little bit.

So what about Bob?  And Luis...and Gordon...and Susan...And Maria...And...

Well to me you'll never be forgotten.  And from this "old lady" who grew up watching you, learning from you and loving what you did, THANK YOU!


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