George Newall, who was one of the executive producers and creative directors of every episode of the musical learning cartoon series, Schoolhouse Rock, died Thursday (December 8). He was 88 years old.
The New York Times announced his death, confirmed by his wife Lisa Maxwell. She said the cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest. He is survived by his wife, a stepson, and three sisters.
Newall, along with Tom Yohe, oversaw the production of episodes comprised of interstitial shorts and included songs like “Conjunction Junction,” which explained conjunctions and grammar, and “I’m Just a Bill,” which talked about the process of making a law. Another popular song was “Three is the Magic Number,” which has since been sampled by the famed rap group De La Soul.
The series originally ran from 1973 until 1984. (It was later revived from 1993-1996.) The show, which turned 50 years old last year, is now considered a classic. Prior to helping create the show, Newall was an advertising agency creative director in the early ’70s.
According to Deadline, Newall started with the show in the early ’70s after David McCall of the firm McCaffrey & McCall asked Newall, who was then the creative director at the agency, to set multiplication tables to music. Newall recruited the songwriting team of Ben Tucker and Bob Dorough. The agency’s art director Yohe added illustrations.
In 1999, McCall died. A year later in 2000, Yohe died. Tucker died in 2013 and Dorough died in 2018.
Many on Twitter shared their favorite parts of the series, including former NBA star Rex Chapman, who wrote, “George R. Newall – the creator of “Schoolhouse Rock,” has passed away at the age of 88. Rest in Peace.”
What is your favorite Schoolhouse Rock video? Tell us below. And check out one of ours, “I’m Just a Bill,” below.
Photo by Kari Rene Hall/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images