Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who brought childlike vulnerability to the hulking, yellow-feathered character Big Bird for 50 years on the groundbreaking children’s TV show “Sesame Street” and even made lovable Oscar the Grouch, a lover of garbage, died Sunday at the age of 85, the Sesame Workshop announced on Sunday (December 8th).
Spinney, who suffers from the movement disorder dystonia, had only provided Big Bird’s voice since 2015 when another puppeteer was in the costume.
Big Bird, Oscar and Spinney were part of “Sesame Street” when it debuted on November 10, 1969, with the aim of entertaining and educating young children, especially those from low-income families.
Spinney was close to Jim Henson, the man behind ‘Sesame Street’ and the Muppets puppet troupe, and he wore the full Big Bird costume when he sang the Muppets anthem ‘Bein’ Green’ at the funeral of Henson in 1990.
Spinney also brought to life the antithesis of Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, the furry green creature who offered his curious opinions on the happenings of Sesame Street. Oscar lived in a dumpster and sang about his love of trash – “anything dirty, dull or dusty, anything ragged, rotten or rusty.