NEW YORK -- Will Lee, a veteran actor best known as the bow-tied storekeeper Mr. Hooper on television's Sesame Street, died Tuesday night of a heart attack, it was reported Wednesday. He was 74.
Lee died at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, said officials of Childrens Television Workshop, which produces Sesame Street.
During his 50-year career, Lee taught drama, and performed in movies, Broadway theater and television, but he was best known as the friendly storekeeper on the children's program.
As Mr. Hooper, Lee was one of the original members of the cast which was formed in 1969. A recent survey by the Workshop revealed Mr. Hooper was the most widely recognized human character on the make-believe street.
Lee was born Aug. 5, 1908 in Brooklyn, where he attended public schools.
Until he took up the role of Mr. Hooper, Lee's career centered around the theater. He was a co-founder of the mobile 'Theater in Action' in the 1930s, was a member of the WPA Federal Theater Project, and later worked with the Group Theater headed by Harold Clurman and Lee Strasberg.
As a member of the Army's Special Services branch during World War II, he won two citations for directing and staging shows.
Lee, who performed in more than a dozen movies, also taught acting for nine years at the American Theatre Wing, the New School for Social Research, Boston University, an the Uta Hagen-Herbert Oerghon Studio.
He is survived by his sister, Sophie Lubov, of Port Charlotte, Fla.