Caroll Spinney, puppeteer of ‘Sesame Street’ Big Bird, performs for the last time


There were a few sad faces on sunny “Sesame Street” on Friday as Caroll Spinney gave her final performance as the lovable Big Bird.

The 84-year-old puppeteer revealed on Wednesday that he is retiring from the PBS children’s television show after nearly 50 years. Spinney delighted children playing both the sweet and curious Big Bird and the grumpy Oscar the Grouch.

The official “Sesame Street” Twitter page paid tribute to Spinney with a photo gallery from his last day on set. Photos show Spinney and his wife, Debra, being celebrated by emotional cast and crew members.

The heart and soul of “Sesame Street” since its launch in 1969, Spinney said in a statement released by Sesame Workshop that playing Big Bird helped him discover his life’s purpose.

“Before coming to ‘Sesame Street,’ I didn’t feel like what I was doing was very important,” Spinney said. “Big Bird helped me find my purpose. Even if I leave my roles, I feel that I will always be Big Bird. And even Oscar, once in a while!

“They gave me great joy, led me to my true calling – and my wonderful wife! – and created a lifetime of memories that I will cherish forever.”

Puppeteer Caroll Spinney retired on Friday after nearly 50 years playing iconic characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on “Sesame Street.” Getty Images

Spinney’s puppeteering skills were recognized by legendary Muppets creator Jim Henson, who cast him on the show.

In 1973, Spinney met Debra on “Sesame Street” while working for Children’s Television Workshop. The couple married in 1979.

Caroll Spinney (aka Big Bird) retires
Caroll Spinney and Oscar le Grouch were all smiles at the Creative Arts Daytime Emmy Awards in 2006.Getty Images

Although he quit puppetry in 2015 due to physical demands, he continued to do the voices of Big Bird and Oscar, The New York Times reported.

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Throughout his run as one of television’s most recognizable characters, Spinney felt Big Bird’s personality reflected a part of himself.

“I was one of those kind of kids who wanted to do the right thing, so that’s what Big Bird always tries to be, tries to be a good kid,” he said. told Jenna Bush Hager in TODAY in 2015. “It’s so much fun to play something that you know when the kids see it they’re melting the right way.”

The six-time Emmy winner and two-time Grammy winner also got a chance to adopt a different persona by playing the irascible Oscar the Grouch.

“Oscar is pretty cool,” he told TODAY. “It’s fun to play against someone very different on one side.

“On the other hand, Big Bird is my child,” he added. “In a way, I like it best.”


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