Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett attend the 7th Annual SESAME WORKSHOP Benefit Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on May 27, 2009.

    Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett, creators of sesame streetat a Sesame Workshop benefit gala in 2009
    Zach Hyman/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

    Lloyd Morrisett, the co-creator of sesame street who believed television could help young children learn, has died aged 93.

    Morrisett’s death was announced this week by Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind sesame street which he co-founded in 1968. No cause of death was provided.

    “A wise, thoughtful, and above all gracious leader of the Workshop for decades, Lloyd was fascinated by the power of technology and constantly thought of new ways to use it to educate,” Sesame Workshop says in a statement on Twitter.

    sesame street grew out of conversations that took place in the late 1960s between Morrisett, then vice president of the Carnegie Corporation, and television producer Joan Ganz Cooney.

    They teamed up with Gerald Lesser, a developmental psychologist who advised them on the show’s teaching materials, and Jim Henson, the Muppet puppeteer who created the first class of sesame streetthe eclectic characters from, including Bert and Ernie, Big Bird, the Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch. The show was created in 1969.

    “Without Lloyd Morrisett, there would be no sesame street“says Cooney in a statement. “He was the one who came up with the idea of ​​using television to teach preschoolers basic skills, like letters and numbers. He was a trusted partner and loyal friend to me for over fifty years, and he will be sorely missed.

    One of the oldest shows in the world, sesame street received more than 100 Emmys. In 2019, it received the Kennedy Center Honor for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, becoming the first-ever television show to win the award.

    Millions of viewers tune in every week to watch sesame street in the United States only, according to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The show airs in over 120 countries.

    Born in Oklahoma City in 1929, Morrisett studied philosophy at Oberlin College and earned a doctorate in experimental psychology at Yale University. He worked as a teacher before joining the Carnegie Corporation, where he worked for a decade.

    One Sunday morning in December 1965, something caught Morrisett’s eye: his 3-year-old daughter, Sarah, couldn’t take her eyes off the test models on television as she waited for her cartoons to begin. “It struck me that there was something fascinating about Sarah about television,” Morrisett later recounted, according to Michael Davis’ book. Street Gang: The Complete Sesame Street Story.

    The sighting was at the front of his mind when he met Cooney at a dinner party the following year.

    “I said, ‘Joan, do you think television could be used to teach young children?’ His response was, ‘I don’t know, but I’d like to talk about it,'” Morrisett told the Guardian in 2004.

    The duo teamed up with education specialists and child psychologists to create sesame street, with the aim of using television to help low-income and minority children overcome the barriers they faced when they started school. Over its 54-year history, the show has continually adapted to the times, reflecting social and political changes and evolving its roster of characters to capture a diversity of experiences.

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