Lloyd Morrisett, co-creator of the beloved PBS Sesame Street children’s show, has passed away at the age of 93.
The Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, announced the news in a tweet earlier this month, saying, “Sesame Workshop mourns the passing of our esteemed and beloved co-founder Lloyd N. Morrisett, PhD, who died at the age of 93.”
The Workshop included a photo of Morrisett next to a Muppet made in his likeness and shared more accolades and memories in the thread.
Joan Ganz Gooney, Morrisett's co-founder and close friend, said, “Without Lloyd 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. He was a trusted partner and loyal friend to me for over fifty years, and he will be sorely missed.”
Sesame Street introduced the world to Kami, the first HIV-positive Muppet, in 2002 on the South African version of the show. She was included on Time's list of Top 10 Topical Sesame Street Characters and made international news when it was revealed that the 5-year-old orphan contracted HIV at birth through a blood transfusion.
Kami's name means “acceptance” in Setswana — a language spoken in southern Africa — and she challenged the stereotype that HIV-positive children are sickly and unhappy.
Sesame Street first aired in 1969 during the height of the civil rights movement. With kids falling behind in school, Morrisett told WBUR, “We hoped to find a way — using television — that we might help those children who would otherwise not succeed in school, do better.”
Morrisett served as a board member of the Sesame Workshop up until his death.
Last year, Emilio Delgado, the actor who played Luis on Sesame Street and a longtime HIV and LGBTQ+ ally, died at 81.