Caroll Spinney is deceased: the “Sesame Street” puppeteer behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch was 85; suffered from dystonia



Caroll Spinney, the “Sesame Street“The puppeteer behind the legendary characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch has passed away, Atelier Sesame said on Sunday. He was 85 years old.

Spinney had been living with dystonia for some time, which causes involuntary muscle contractions, Sesame Workshop said. He died at his home in Connecticut.

“Since 1969, Caroll’s caring and loving worldview has helped shape and define Sesame Street,” Sesame Workshop said in a statement. “His enormous talent and oversized heart were perfectly suited to play the larger-than-life yellow bird that has delighted countless fans of all ages across the globe, and his adorably cantankerous grumpy has given us all permission. to be cranky every now and then. In these characters, Caroll Spinney gave the world something really special … He will be sorely missed. “

Sesame Workshop has stated that they will continue their beloved characters in the future. Spinney’s longtime apprentice Matt Vogel took over as a puppeteer for Big Bird in 2015 when it became too difficult for Spinney to play the part, while Spinney continued to work on the voice until ‘in 2018, when he fully retired. Eric Jacobson took over the role of Oscar the Grouch.

Spinney was the subject of a documentary titled “I am a big bird: the story of Caroll Spinney“, which was released in 2015.

“I am Big Bird: The Story of Carrol Spinney”

He said “CBS Evening News “in 2015 that he would play the roles for another 50 years if he could.

Spinney was part of “Sesame Street” from its premiere in 1969 and has appeared in over 4,000 episodes. The Henson family said in a statement it was a moment of “creative fate” when Spinney met Jim Henson.

“The sweet performer who would bring two of ‘Sesame Street’s most beloved residents to life’ could perfectly convey the humor and heart of our father’s creations,” said the Henson family. “Big Bird was childish, without being childish. And Oscar the Grouch reflected the universal feelings we all share, regardless of our age. Those of us who have had the privilege of working alongside him and calling him friend. saw firsthand that he cared so much about what these characters portrayed and how they could really create a change. “

For decades, Caroll Spinney has played the role …


Spinney said that the grumpy Oscar was inspired by a grumpy waiter at a former Manhattan seafood restaurant and took on the voice of a New York City cab driver he had once ridden in.

“I always thought, ‘How lucky for me to have been able to play the two best Muppets? “”, did he declare. The New York Times in 2015. “Playing Big Bird is one of the happiest things in my life.”

Since Big Bird is 8ft 2in tall, Spinney’s head only went to the bottom of Big Bird’s neck. He operated on the mouth with his right arm.

His wife, Debra, told “CBS Evening News” that unlike his other famous character, Spinney wasn’t very cranky, even dating back to their first date in 1973.

“When he first asked me to go out, I came home, I really did cartwheels,” she said. “I mean, I’m dating Big Bird for Pete’s sake!”

Caroll Spinney “Oscar and Big Bird” seen on October 9, 2014 in New York City.


The characters of Spinney were loved by generations of children. He told “Evening News” that the parents of a 5-year-old boy named Joey, who was dying of cancer, asked him to call. Spinney said he called and said in Big Bird’s voice, “Hi Joey, it’s me Big Bird. And I heard you had a hard time and I just thought I would call and greet you. “

The boy’s father later told Spinney that his son Joey hadn’t smiled in months but passed away with a smile on his face thanks to Big Bird’s call. In Joey’s last moment, the father described to Spinney, Joey said, “Big Bird called me. He’s my friend.”



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