Caroll Spinney, the beloved and renowned puppeteer who brought the original Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to life on Sesame Street for nearly 50 years, died on December 8 at the age of 85.
According to a statement from his colleagues, Spinney left this world in his Connecticut home after a long battle with dystonia, a muscle disease. He leaves behind a lasting legacy of kindness, his loving worldview having helped shape Sesame Street in unmistakable strength for the good that remains to this day.
“His enormous talent and oversized heart were perfectly suited to play the larger-than-life yellow bird that has delighted generations of children and countless fans of all ages across the world, and his adorably cantankerous curmudgeon us gave everyone permission to be cranky once in a while, “the statement said.
When Spinney officially retired from the series in 2018, Seasame Street has compiled a tribute to his work (above). Featured by Kermit puppeteer Jim Henson in 1969, Spinney’s influence on the series’ underlying values ââand contagious joy remain clear. He has won five Emmy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for his work over five decades.
Fans are expressing their gratitude and sadness on social media, highlighting Spinney’s lasting impact on the lives of millions.
When Henson died in 1990, Spinney sang a song under the name Big Bird to mourn his lifelong colleague. The clip sounds even more resonant today.
As Spinney’s spirit endures through the character of Big Bird, it’s hard not to see this as a twin loss as we mourn not only the man but his unforgettable performance as the iconic. Sesame Street puppets.