Jon Arthur Stone (April 13, 1931 – March 30, 1997) was an American writer, director and producer, who was best known for being an original crew member on The Muppets' Sesame Street and is credited with helping develop characters such as Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird. Stone won 18 television Emmy Awards.[2] Many regard him as one of the best children's television writers.[1]

Jon Stone
Jon Arthur Stone

(1932-04-13)April 13, 1932
DiedMarch 30, 1997(1997-03-30) (aged 65)[1]
EducationWilliams College (BA)
Yale University (MFA)
OccupationScreenwriter, director, producer
(m. 1964; div. 1974)


Born in New Haven, Connecticut,[1] to a physician,[3]Stone attended Pomfret School and entered Williams College, graduating in 1952. He received a master's degree from the Yale University School of Drama in 1955, at which time he joined a CBS training program.[2][1] It was then that Stone began his work in children's television, as a writer for Captain Kangaroo. He also worked on Kukla, Fran and Ollie. before moving on to Sesame Street as writer and producer.[2][3] He also worked on several other Muppet projects before and during his time on Sesame Street, and was the author of several children's books, particularly The Monster at the End of This Book, published by Random House as a Little Golden Book.[1]

Producing and writingEdit

Stone's earliest association with Jim Henson came in the early 1960s,[3] working on fairy tale projects with writer Tom Whedon, such as a proposed Snow White series.[citation needed] This was turned into a Cinderella pilot,[3] which was shot in October of that year but was not aired,[citation needed] and eventually became Hey, Cinderella!.[2] Stone also appeared in Henson's 1967 short film Ripples, as an introspective architect.

In 1968, Stone brought Henson and Joe Raposo (who also worked on Hey, Cinderella!) to the attention of the Children's Television Workshop (now known as Sesame Workshop) president Joan Ganz Cooney when she started putting together Sesame Street.[citation needed] He wrote the pilot script upon the request of Cooney, despite initially being reluctant: The Economist wrote in an obituary that Stone had intended to leave television.[4] and was one of the three original producers of the program; he later served as an executive producer for many years.[1]

Stone wrote specials including Big Bird in China and Big Bird in Japan.[1]


Stone was director of Sesame Street until 1996.[5] He also directed the 1995 Christmas special Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree.[6] Stone directed Don't Eat the Pictures, a special that brought Sesame Street to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and won the Prix Jeunesse International.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

Stone was married to former actress Beverley Owen.[7] The couple had two daughters before divorcing in 1974.[2][8]

Stone died in New York on March 30, 1997 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, two weeks before his 66th birthday.[9] Posthumously, a memorial bench on the Literary Walk in Central Park was dedicated to Stone. The bench is located directly to the right of a bench dedicated to Jim Henson.[citation needed] In his New York Times obituary, Joan Ganz Cooney describes Stone as "probably the most brilliant writer of children's television material in America."[1] Season 29 of Sesame Street was dedicated in his memory.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Lawrence Van Gelder (1 April 1997). "Jon Stone, Who Helped Create 'Sesame Street,' Is Dead at 65". The New York Times. p. B 10. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e Obituary: Jon Stone, Helmore, Edward, The Independent. April 22, 1997.
  3. ^ a b c d e Brennan, Patricia (18 June 1989). "'Sesame Street's' Guiding Hand". The Washington Post.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "Jon Stone". The Economist. 5 April 1997.
  5. ^ "JON STONE, 65, `SESAME STREET' CREATOR, WRITER". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2021-11-11.
  6. ^ Heffley, Lynne (1995-12-06). "Muppets and Friends Search for Perfect 'Christmas Tree'". The Los Angeles Times. p. 145. Retrieved 2021-11-11.
  7. ^ Obituaries, Telegraph (2019-04-02). "Beverley Owen, actress who played Lily Munster's wholesome teenage niece in 'The Munsters' – obituary". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2021-11-11.
  8. ^ Henderson, Cydney. "Beverley Owen, the original Marilyn on 'The Munsters,' has died at age 81". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2021-11-11.
  9. ^ Staff. "JON STONE DIES; A KEY FIGURE ON 'SESAME STREET'". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2021-11-01.

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