Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind “Sesame Street,” shared the news of Morrisett’s death in a tweet Monday and confirmed his death to USA TODAY via email. A cause of death was 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 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.”
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After receiving his bachelor’s degree at Oberlin College, Morrisett did graduate work in psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, according to the official Sesame Workshop website, later earning a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Yale University.
In 1968, Morrisett co-founded the nonprofit Children’s Television Workshop (which would later be renamed Sesame Workshop) with former publicist Joan Ganz Cooney, who called Morrisett “a trusted partner and loyal friend” in a statement shared by Sesame Workshop via Twitter Monday.
“Without Lloyd Morrisett, there would be no Sesame Street,” Cooney said in the statement. ”It was he who first came up with the notion of using television to teach preschoolers basic skills, such as letters and numbers.”
She added: “He will be sorely missed.”
“Sesame Street” aired its first episode on public television on Nov. 10, 1969. The landmark educational children’s series introduced the world to beloved Muppet characters, including Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, and helped pave the way for inclusion, diversity and learning onscreen. Morrisett worked as a writer on the series for 56 episodes from 1969-2010.
“‘Sesame Street’ (premiered) in ’69, the year of both Woodstock and the moon landing, and carried on the optimism of the ’60s,” Ron Simon, curator of television and radio at the Paley Center for Media, told USA TODAY in 2019. “It was certainly an offshoot of the civil rights movement and brought together a multicultural cast and creative team.”
The series, which moved to Warner Bros. Discovery’s HBO Max streaming service in 2020, has also broken new ground for children’s television in recent years, introducing human and puppet characters dealing with issues such as homelessness, foster care and autism.
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Contributing: Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lloyd Morrisett: ‘Sesame Street’ co-creator dies at 93