Joe Raposo
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Joe Raposo (right) with Italian singer Placido Domingo
Personal Information
Nationality American
Birth name: Joseph Guilherme Raposo
Born: (1937-02-08)8 February 1937
Birthplace: Fall River, Massachusetts
Died 5 February 1989(1989-02-05) (aged 52)
Career/Family Information
Series information
Series involved with: Three's Company (theme composer)
Three's Company Script

Joseph Guilherme Raposo, OIH (8 February 1937 - 5 February 1989) was a Portuguese-American composer, songwriter, pianist, television writer and lyricist. He is best known for his work on the children's television series Sesame Street, for which he wrote the theme song, as well as classic songs such as "Bein' Green" and "C is for Cookie".

He also wrote music for television shows such as The Electric Company, Shining Time Station and the sitcoms Three's Company and The Ropers, including their theme songs. In addition to these works, Raposo also composed extensively for the DePatie-Freleng Enterprises such as Halloween Is Grinch Night, Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You? and The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat.

Early life and career

Raposo was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, the only child of Portuguese immigrant parents Joseph Soares Raposo and Maria da Ascenção Vitorino Raposo.[1] He was a graduate of Harvard College, class of 1958, where he was well known for writing the scores for several Hasty Pudding shows.

Raposo worked in musical theater both before and after his work for the Children's Television Workshop and Sesame Street; musical theater was where he first encountered future collaborator Jim Henson. According to Jonathan Schwartz, during the mid-1960s, before Sesame Street, Raposo performed side music in piano bars in Boston to make ends meet, and also served as pianist and music director for a jazz trio working at Boston's WNAC-TV. Upon hearing Raposo's musical skill, Schwartz claims in his autobiography he urged Raposo to give up piano bar playing in Boston and "take his ass to New York." Raposo's decision to take Schwartz's suggestion and move to New York in 1965 eventually led him to his fated meeting with Henson, to Sesame Street, and toward international fame.

Raposo was the musical supervisor and arranger of the original off-Broadway run of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and he contributed additional music to that show. He was also responsible for the memorable theme music for New York City television station WABC-TV's The 4:30 Movie; the piece, called "Moving Pictures," was also used for the station's other movie shows, and subsequently by ABC's other owned-and-operated stations.

Film, stage and television

Although primarily known for work in live-action and animated children's television, Joe Raposo actually aspired to become a Broadway musical composer. In 1962, he set Eric Bentley's English-language translation of song texts and poems in Bertolt Brecht's play A Man's a Man at the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Masque Theatre in New York City. Portions of the production were subsequently shown on CBS-TV, and the entire production (dialogue, songs, and all) was recorded and released on the Spoken Arts label as Spoken Arts SA 870 (1974). In the 1970s, Raposo wrote original music for the animated film Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure; he later teamed with William Gibson (The Miracle Worker) to create a stage musical about Raggedy Ann. The musical was the first theatre company production from the United States to perform in the Soviet Union upon resumption of cultural relations between the two countries. It later had a brief run on Broadway in 1986. Raposo also collaborated with Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof) on a musical adaptation of the 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life. A Wonderful Life was first performed at the University of Michigan in 1986, and had a successful run at Washington, DC's Arena Stage in 1991. It was performed in concert on Broadway for one night only on 12 December 2005; the production starred Brian Stokes Mitchell, David Hyde Pierce, and Judy Kuhn. During his career Raposo composed themes for several sitcoms, such as Ivan the Terrible, Three's Company and Foot in the Door, and composed for documentaries, most notably Peter Rosen's production America Is for which Raposo not only scored a patriotic, critically well-received title theme but, unusually, served as its on-screen narrator.

Death and family

Raposo died in 1989 at the age of 51 in Bronxville, New York of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, just three days shy of his 52nd birthday. He was survived by two sons, Joseph and Nicholas, from his first marriage and son, Andrew, and daughter, Liz, from his marriage to Pat Collins-Sarnoff.[2] [3] In 1998, many of his manuscripts were donated by Collins-Sarnoff to Georgetown University Library.

His grave is located at Union Cemetery in Chatham, Massachusetts.

Raposo was eulogized in the April 1990 documentary Sing! Sesame Street Remembers Joe Raposo and His Music, which was hosted and directed by Sesame Street crew member Jon Stone.

Raposo died exactly one week after the first episode of the final children's series he composed for, Shining Time Station, aired. When Jim Henson died, Sing! Sesame Street Remembers Joe Raposo and His Music was re-aired on PBS.


  1. "Muppet Central News - Joe Raposo honored in new children's book". 2004-09-18. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  2. "VOWS; Pat Collins, William Sarnoff". New York Times. 1994-03-20. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  3. "Pat Collins". BFCA Member Directory. Broadcast Film Critic Association. Retrieved 6 July 2005.

External links