Lloyd Morrisett, co-creator of the iconic children’s TV series ‘Sesame Street’, has died. It was 93.
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind “Sesame Street,” shared the news of Morrisett’s death in a tweet on Monday and confirmed his death to USA TODAY via email. Cause of death not given.
“Sesame Workshop mourns the passing of our esteemed and beloved co-founder Lloyd N. Morrisett,” the organization wrote alongside a photo of Morrisett posing with a Muppet. “Lloyd leaves a great and indelible legacy among generations of children around the world, with ‘Sesame Street’ only the most visible tribute to a lifetime of good work and lasting impact.”
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Born in 1929 in Oklahoma City, Morissette originally trained to be a teacher with a background in psychology. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College, Morrisett pursued graduate studies in psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, according to Sesame Workshop’s official website, later earning a doctorate in experimental psychology from Yale University.
In 1968, Morrisett co-founded the nonprofit Children’s Television Workshop (later renamed Sesame Workshop) with former journalist Joan Ganz Cooney, who called Morrisett a “trusted partner and loyal friend” in a statement released by Sesame Workshop via Twitter on Monday.
Morrisett and Cooney worked with developmental psychologist Gerald Lesser of Harvard University to create the show’s unique approach to teaching that now reaches 120 million children. Legendary puppeteer Jim Henson supplied the creatures.
“Without Lloyd Morrisett, there would be no Sesame Street,” Cooney said in the statement. “He was the one who first came up with the idea of using television to teach preschoolers basic skills like letters and numbers.”
He added: “He will be greatly missed.”
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“Sesame Street” aired its first episode on public television on November 10, 1969. The landmark children’s educational series introduced the world to beloved Muppet characters, including Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, and helped pave the way for inclusion, diversity and on-screen learning. Morrisett worked as a writer on the series for 56 episodes from 1969 to 2010.
“‘Sesame Street’ (opened) in ’69, the year of both Woodstock and the moon landing, and it continued the optimism of the ’60s,” Ron Simon, curator of television and radio at the Paley Center, told USA for Media. TODAY in 2019. “It was definitely an offshoot of the civil rights movement and assembled a multicultural cast and creative team.”
“Sesame Street” airs in more than 150 countries, has won 216 Emmys, 11 Grammys and in 2019 received the Kennedy Center Honor for Artistic Achievement, the first time a television program took home the award (Big Bird walked down the aisle and basically sat on Tom Hanks’ lap).
The series, which moved to Warner Bros.’ HBO Max streaming service. Discovery in 2020 has also broken new ground for children’s television in recent years, featuring people and puppet characters dealing with issues such as homelessness, foster care and autism.
Morrisett is survived by his wife, Mary, daughters Julie and Sarah, and granddaughters Frances and Clara.
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Contributing: Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY. Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lloyd Morrisett: ‘Sesame Street’ co-creator dies at 93