The Legacy of Schoolhouse Rock!

In this Stitcher Premium bonus episode, Grammar Girl delves into the history of Schoolhouse Rock! and what made it the legacy it is today.

Mignon Fogarty
7-minute read
Schoolhouse Rock! logo

HH: Newall says they weren't aware at the time of making the show that they were creating something that would become so fundamental to so many people—they were just having a good time! Many people contributed to making “Schoolhouse Rock!” the success it is. Jazz legends like Lynn Ahrens, Blossom Dearie, and Jack Sheldon and others voice the lyrics and gifted writers like Dave Frishberg, George Newell, and Bob Dorough developed the memorable lyrics. It was a collaborative environment, though, and each person dabbled in different roles. If an animator had an idea, they'd do it. If the singers had a better lyric, it would get changed.


HH: Vocalist for the first song and many more, Bob Dorough, passed away in April of 2018. His daughter, Aralee Dorough, remembers Schoolhouse Rock from the beginning.

AD: So, I'm a musician myself and one of the first “Schoolhouse Rock!” fans.

HH: She was in grade school when her dad wrote "3 is a Magic Number."

AD: Oh, I remember it because I was in the perfect age range for multiplication rock which was the beginning of it all. I was learning to multiply in third and fourth grade.

HH: So did your dad try out the songs on you, or...?

AD: Oh, yeah. I mean, he definitely tried them out on me. And we'd always talk about, you know, math. And it was just the perfect time it be writing songs about math—with a daughter of the age that I was.

HH: Sometimes he not only bounced ideas around at home to try on for size, he’d also included his family in the music itself.

AD: And then I do remember, now I think it was third grade, but getting out of school early and we went to New York City to a recording studio, and I bet George was there in the recording booth with my dad and they had “Zero” recorded, and I added the girl.

"Zero? How can zero be a hero?" plays

HH: Years later, her dad worked on his other music at jazz clubs and would often have college-age waiters and waitresses recognize him purely by his undeniable voice.

AD: They'd hear him sing, and they'd say, wait a minute, you're that guy! That's you in "3 is the Magic Number."


About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.

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