Caroll Spinney, the Sesame Street puppeteer behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, has died

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Spinney died at his Connecticut home after battling dystonia, a common movement disorder. He was 85 years old.

“Caroll Spinney’s contributions to Sesame Street are countless. He hasn’t only given us Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, he’s also given a lot of himself,” said Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder of Sesame Street, in the Press release.

“We at Sesame Workshop mourn his passing and feel immense gratitude for all he has given to Sesame Street and to children around the world.”

The legendary puppeteer was known for his “kind and loving view of the world,” giving two of the show’s most iconic characters the cheerful (and cranky) personalities viewers around the world adored.

50 years of healthy joy

Spinney announced in October 2018 that he was stepping down from roles.

For many “Sesame” fans, it was the end of an era for a man whose characters helped define their childhood.

Spinney’s five decades of portraying beloved characters have left him in the shadows, even as Big Bird and Oscar rose to fame around the world.

Big Bird visited China with Bob Hope in 1979 and even showed off his enormous dancing skills with the Rockettes and lead dancer Cynthia Gregory.

The beloved 8-foot-2-inch yellow bird was celebrated with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, celebrated in its image on a US postage stamp, and named “Living Legend” in 2000 by the Library of Congress.

Spinney was the focus of a documentary in 2014. “I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story” explored his life and the inspiration behind his creation of the Big Bird character and his decades-long collaboration with Jim Henson.

Remembering Caroll Spinney

Fans flocked to Twitter after his death in mourning and in remembrance of the happiness the puppeteer brought to people.

“Big Bird and Oscar were two of my favorite characters on Sesame Street at the time and Mr. Spinney REALLY brought them to life … my condolences to his family. May he rest in peace,” a Twitter user noted.
“If anyone needs me, I’ll watch Follow That Bird crying until I’m dehydrated. Rest in peace, Mr. Spinney. Thanks for everything,” Sean Arena tweeted.
“I remember when I was a little boy learning for the first time how to cope with the grief, death and loss of Big Bird almost 50 years ago when Mr. Hooper passed away. . I know it is okay to cry and be sad and also that happy memories will be what lasts. Thank you Mr. Spinney and Sesame Street “, Edward Grass noted on Twitter.
“Horrible news to wake me up. Rest in peace, Mr. Spinney. You brought a lot of light into my life. I always loved Big Bird as a child, I sometimes saw him misunderstood and it resonated with me. was different, but his friends didn’t like him less for that “, another user tweeted.

Spinney died on the same day that “Sesame Street” was honored at the Kennedy Center for his accomplishments in the arts.

CNN’s Lisa Respers France contributed to this report.



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