Lloyd N. Morissette, a psychologist, and foundation executive co-created the children’s television program “Sesame Street” with television producer Jon Ganz Cooney, which taught generations of teenagers their numbers and letters and helped generations of adults guide their young children.
Life’s challenges died on Jan. 15 at his home in San Diego. He was 93. His daughter Julie Morissette confirmed his death but did not specify a cause. Millions of children have grown up watching “Sesame Street” since its debut on public television on Nov. 10, 1969, and the Muppets, created by Jim Henson for the show, have become international celebrities in the years since.
“Sesame Street” also features an ethnically diverse cast of live actors who interact with the puppets, talking about things from shoe-tying techniques to the meaning of death. Compared to the giant yellow Big Bird, the hungry Cookie Monster or trash can denizen Oscar the Grouch, Dr. Morissette keeps a low profile.
Dr. Morissette, a Yale-trained psychologist who served as vice president of the philanthropic Carnegie Corp. — at least to kids who have seen “Sesame Street” — is an unseen but major force in the show. In a statement posted on Sesame Workshop Facebook, Dr. Morissette’s company founded Cooney’s Children’s Television Workshop in 1968, Cooney said “without Lloyd Morissette, there would be no Sesame Street”.
“He came up with the idea of using television to teach preschoolers basic skills like letters and numbers,” she said. Dr. Morissette explained that he got the idea early one Sunday in 1965 when he found his 3-year-old daughter Sarah in front of the television set, eagerly awaiting the start of the morning cartoons.
She was startled, hypnotized, by a test signal that filled the air before her performance began. “I thought there was something fascinating about television for Sarah,” author Michael Davis quotes Dr. Morissette in the book “Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street.” “What’s a kid doing looking at a station identification signal? What does this mean?”
Sometime later, Dr. Morissette attended a dinner at the home of Cooney, a producer of educational television. “Do you think television is useful for teaching young children?” he asked her, according to Davis’ account. “I don’t know,” Cooney said, “but I’m about it. I want to talk.” They made a formidable pair. Cooney produced a report for the Carnegie Corporation.
“Potential Uses of Television in Preschool Education” – that formed the philosophical basis of their presentation, Dr. Morissette contemplated obtaining grants from his own organization as well as from the federal government. , the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Ford Foundation. “There are televisions in more homes than bathtubs, telephones, vacuum cleaners, toasters, or even the average newspaper,” Cooney’s report said.
By using the medium of television, she and Dr. Morissette argued, across the United States there was little or no Entering school unprepared An education program can help millions of children. Disadvantaged children in urban areas and other marginalized communities, whom Dr. Morissette saw through her work at Carnegie Corp., were of particular concern.
“We found that those kids would enter school three months behind and by the end of first grade, be a year behind,” Dr. Morissette told NPR years later. “I wondered if television could be used to help children in school.” The show is rigorously research-based, with psychologists and other experts on staff helping shape the show’s material and the way it’s presented.
The show is full of jingles and rhymes, stories, and fun to teach kids without even realizing they’re learning. “Sesame Street” has become a staple of public television, and over the past 53 years, the U.S. The longest-running children’s program on television. Dr. Morissette served as Chairman of the Workshop from 1968 to 2000.
Lloyd N. Morissette – no middle initial – was born on November 2, 1929, in Oklahoma City. He grew up in Yonkers, N.Y., where his father was an assistant superintendent of schools, and later in Los Angeles. Became a professor at UCLA.
Dr. Morissette’s mother was a homemaker. Dr. Morissette received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1951 and a Ph.D. in psychology from Yale University in 1956. He taught at the University of California, Berkeley. He was president of the nonprofit Markle at Carnegie Corp. from 1969 to 1998 before moving to New York to work at the Social Science Research Council.
Foundation, where he used its endowment to support the educational uses of television and other media. He is the past chairman of the board of Rand Corp. Dr. Morissette’s survivors include his wife of 70 years, the former Marie Pierre of San Diego; two daughters, Sarah Morissette Oatley of Farmington, Maine, and Julie Morissette of Oakland, Calif.; and two grandchildren. In 2019, “Sesame Street” became the first television program to receive the Kennedy Center Honors. Along with Cooney, along with the Muppet entourage of Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and Big Bird, Dr. Morissette accepted the identity.