'Sesame Street' co-founder Lloyd Morrisett dies at 93

"Without Lloyd Morrisett, there would be no Sesame Street."

Hannah Martens | January 26, 2023, 06:20 PM

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Lloyd Morrisett, the co-founder of the beloved children's programme, "Sesame Street", has passed away at age 93.

Sesame Workshop tweeted the news of Morrisett's death on Jan. 24, describing him as "a wise, thoughtful, and above all kind leader of the Workshop for decades".

"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," wrote Sesame Workshop, which was previously known as Children’s Television Workshop and founded in 1968.

A legacy that impacted many

Morrisett, along with Joan Ganz Cooney, created "Sesame Street" with Jim Henson's Muppets.

Its first episode premiered on Nov. 10, 1969, making it one of the world's longest-running children's television shows.

The aim of "Sesame Street" was to use television to help prepare disadvantaged children for school.

At that time, television penetration was higher than telephones and newspapers in U.S. homes, and where access to kindergarten education was not as high as now.

Morriset, a psychologist with a PhD, had founded the organisation Children's Television Workshop, which was behind Sesame Street, as a non-profit.

He served as its chairman of the board of trustees for over 30 years before becoming a Lifetime Honorary Trustee, CBS News reported.

"Sesame Street" is now the single largest informal education source in the world, reaching millions of children in more than 140 countries each year, and winning nearly 200 Emmys, The Guardian reported.

Raised funds to get show running

Morrisett played a pivotal role in raising funds for "Sesame Street" to come to fruition.

He convinced his superiors at Carnegie Corporation, a philanthropic foundation that focuses on education, to invest US$1 million and corralled another US$4 million from the U.S. Office of Education and US$1.5 million from the Ford Foundation, The Guardian further reported.

Morrisett approached public television stations, which were to become the Public Broadcasting Services (PBS), as commercial broadcasters refused to air the show without advertising.

"Without Llyod Morrisett, there would be no 'Sesame Street'. It was he who first came up with the notion of using television to teach preschoolers basic skills, such as letters and numbers," Cooney said.

"He was a trusted partner and loyal friend to me for over fifty years, and he will be sorely missed."

Top photos via Sesame Workshop and Sesame Street Twitter