About Bob

As one of the original hosts on Sesame Street and an independent children’s recording artist and performer, Bob has received countless awards and honors over the years. He was inducted into the Silver Circle of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, received the American Eagle Award by the National Music Council, and was given the Fame Award by the National Association of Music Educators for furthering the cause of music education.

See Bob through the years

Learn more about Bob’s work

Albums Books Apps

Bob’s recording company, Bob’s Kids Music, has recorded eight full albums. His most recent release, Bob’s Favorite Sing Along Songswon the 2013 Parents’ Choice Classic Award, the Academics’ Choice Award, and the Family Choice Award. It received CD of the Year from Creative Child Magazine and glowing reviews from School Library Journal, Midwest Book Review, Kidzmusic, and Family Man Online. His other albums have received similar awards and praise.

Bob has authored eight books, including his best-selling book about potty training, Uh Oh! Gotta Go!and a book on manners, Oops! Excuse Me Please!

Bob recently narrated his first app for Sesame StreetElmo’s Big Birthday Bash, as well as 12 Sesame Street eBooks for Random House. His recent educational mobile math app, Counting Together, helps children develop their math skills.

bob live

Bob feels strongly that it is important to expose children to all the arts, and to offer them the experience of listening and seeing live music and dance. Over the past 45 years, he has developed a wide variety of family, educational, and holiday concerts featuring both small bands and full orchestras. He’s appeared with more than 100 symphony orchestras and has invited local children to sing and dance in his musical productions. Hundreds of thousands of people have attended his concerts, and anyone who has been to one of his family pops shows will remember the thrill of singing Rubber Duckie with a full symphony orchestra.

Bob still performs in smaller venues and makes appearances regularly.

bob sings

Bob’s singing career began at the age of six on the Illinois family farm when his mother discovered that her son was a soprano! She encouraged him to sing at local gatherings, and by the age of nine he won first place in a talent contest at NBC radio in Chicago.

It wouldn’t be long before Bob was attending the University of Michigan School of Music in Ann Arbor. He was President of the Class of Music ’54 and became the 1st freshman soloist of the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club in their over 90-year history.

In 1954, he was drafted into the Armyand after basic training in Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas, spent time at 7th Army Headquarters near Stuttgart, Germany, attached to the 7th Army Symphony and Soldier Show Division. He conducted the chapel choir and organized a male quartet which placed 2nd in the All Army talent contest. The prize was a month-long tour in France to perform for troops on U.S. Army bases.

After the Army in 1956, while working on his Master’s degree in voice at the Manhattan School of Music, the St. David’s School hired him to teach music appreciation and theory to 2nd through 8th graders. There, he met his future wife Ann Sperry, the nursery school teacher. They were married in 1958 and now have five children and eight grandchildren.

For the next two years, Bob continued working as a freelance artist in New York City, performing both classical and contemporary works. He sang everything from Gregorian chants at funerals to symphonic choral works with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. He recorded with Igor Stravinsky, was in a quartet at the Pablo Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, sang with the Robert Shaw Chorale, the Fred Warring Pennsylvanians, and even with a few rock and roll bands. He sang jingles for radio and appeared on camera in television commercials and musical television shows like The Bell Telephone Hour and the Hallmark Hall of Fame opera productions. Later, he would appear on The Tonight Show, What’s My Line, and To Tell the Truth.

mitch & Japan

In 1960, Bob was invited to be one of the top tenors on NBC’s new weekly television show Sing Along With Mitch. Two years later, Mitch invited Bob to sing alongside Leslie Uggams as the featured male soloist. The show ran for four years and was even picked up in Japan!

After the show was canceled, the group continued to sing together, and Bob headlined a month of performances in Las Vegas at the Desert Inn and went to Japan for a 30-concert tour. Bob sang in English and Japanese and thousands of Japanese teenagers chanted and screamed, “Bobu…Bobu.” Turned out there were “Bobu Magulas” (teenage fan clubs) all over Japan. Before returning home, he landed a few gigs at some of the top night clubs in Tokyo, as well as television appearances and concerts throughout Japan. Over the next three years he would return to Japan nine times, perform in every major city, and record roughly nine LPs and 15 or more singles in both English and Japanese for Nippon Columbia and later with Sony CBS.

One of Bob’s most memorable nights in Japan happened when he was invited to entertain at a small private function for Prime Minister Sato and his daughter, who was a fan. Joined by Minoru Muraoka, who played the shakuhachi (bamboo flute), Bob found it hard to believe that a farm boy from Illinois was singing old Japanese folk songs, in Japanese, to the Prime Minister of Japan! In an interview with The New York Times, the Prime Minister said that “Bob had formed a bridge of song between the countries.”

sesame street

Bob is one of the original cast members of Sesame Street, a PBS children’s show that first aired in 1969. The show is viewed in over 120 English-speaking countries, and in about 60 countries it is produced in the native language of the country.

It all started in front of Carnegie Hall in 1969, when Bob had a chance meeting with Dave Connell, a former friend from the University of Michigan. Connell had recently left Captain Kangaroo and joined Children’s Television Workshop. He asked Bob if he might be interested in auditioning for a new children’s television show. Bob replied, “Not in the least!” He was hoping to parlay his teenage success in Japan into the American teenage market and get his own show, similar to Andy Williams or Perry Como.

A few months later, he got a call from the Workshop, wanting him to take a look at material that had been put together over the past two years: a few segments by a guy named Jim Henson who had something called Muppets. Never having heard of Henson, Bob went to the viewing, was amazed at what he saw, and realized almost immediately that this was going to be a very different kind of children’s show. He eagerly auditioned along with many others, and was one of four actors chosen to film five one-hour pilots. These five shows were tested by hundreds of kids across the United States. Bob made the cut, and the original cast of four (Bob, Susan, Gordon, and Mr. Hooper) went on to shoot the first season (130 one hour episodes). Sesame Street has now aired 4,378 episodes, and by the time you read this, probably more.

Recent awards

In 2013, Bob was one of three Manhattan School of Music alumni to be recognized as a Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient.

In 2010, during the 150th anniversary of the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club, Bob received a Lifetime Achievement Award, Recognition of Accomplishments in the Fields of Music and Music Education.

As an advocate for children, Bob has participated in telethons and other fundraising events for over 40 years. He was honored with a lifetime membership to Variety – The Children’s Charity of British Columbia, and in 2006 was given the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal for outstanding contributions to the province of Saskatchewan.

Premier Brad Wall recently presented Bob with the Distinguished Service Award, Saskatchewan’s highest honor in the province for non-residents, for 35 years of service.

What else?

Well, if you’ve made it this far, I can’t imagine there is anything else you’d like to know, but if you do, you can post your questions on Facebook and I will do my best to respond. – Bob

More of Bob’s latest music