Queens-born Harvard psychologist and chief adviser to Sesame Street, Gerald S. Lesser, has died at the age of 84. The NY Times has published Lesser's obituary, which reveals some interesting facts about the show's curriculum development, and his role in it.

Lesser was working on the show's curriculum from 1969 (when the first episode aired—he's even in the pitch reel) to 1996, and during his time found entertaining ways to help kids reach specific educational goals. For example, a VP at Sesame Workshop, Charlotte F. Cole, says that Oscar the Grouch was designed to help kids understand different perspectives. She explained, “He likes noise, where other people would like quiet. He likes trash. By having this character, it was a vehicle for children to see that other people look at different situations in different ways.”

Another interesting factoid, Lesser consulted Madison Avenue admen (since children allegedly love television commercials), and that's why some segments were developed as "commercials" for particular letters and numbers.

The Harvard Gazette remembers Lesser, noting that Time magazine named Sesame Street as one of 17 shows that changed television; "Along the way, kids have learned about friendship, cooperation and even (through Mr. Hooper) death."