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

Jon Stone
Jon Arthur Stone

(1931-04-13)April 13, 1931
DiedMarch 30, 1997(1997-03-30) (aged 65)[1]
EducationWilliams College (BA)
Yale University (MFA)
Occupation(s)Screenwriter, 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 and joined a CBS training program.[2][1] Stone began his work in children's television as a writer for Captain Kangaroo. He also worked on Kukla, Fran and Ollie before moving to Sesame Street as a writer and producer.[2][3] He also worked on several other Muppets projects before and during his time on Sesame Street.

Stone wrote several children's books, including The Monster at the End of This Book, published by Random House as a Little Golden Book.[1]

Producing and writing


Stone's became associated with Jim Henson in the early 1960s,[3] working on fairy-tale projects with writer Tom Whedon, such as a proposed Snow White series.[citation needed] The idea led to the filming of an unaired Cinderella pilot[3] that 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 had also worked on Hey, Cinderella!) to the attention of Children's Television Workshop president Joan Ganz Cooney as she was planning the show that would become Sesame Street.[citation needed] Stone wrote the pilot script at the request of Cooney, despite his initial reluctance as he had intended to leave television.[4] He was one of the three original producers of the program and later served as an executive producer for many years.[1]

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



Stone was the director of Sesame Street until 1996.[5] He also directed the 1995 Christmas special Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree[6] and 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 life


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, at age 65.[9] A memorial bench dedicated to Stone was installed on the Literary Walk in Central Park, directly to the right of a bench dedicated to Jim Henson.[citation needed] In Stone's New York Times obituary, Joan Ganz Cooney described him 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 64". 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.
  4. ^ "Jon Stone". The Economist. 5 April 1997.
  5. ^ "JON STONE, 65, 'SESAME STREET' CREATOR, WRITER". Chicago Tribune. 4 April 1997. 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 (April 1997). "JON STONE DIES; A KEY FIGURE ON 'SESAME STREET'". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2021-11-01.