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You may not know Caroll Spinney by name or face, but if you have a kid, were a kid, or spent time with kids, you’ll probably recognize her voice.
Spinney is a puppeteer and the original performer behind some of sesame streetthe most beloved characters from, including Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. And, while the 84-year-old quit puppeting characters in 2015 (Big Bird is a huge, cumbersome puppet to operate, after all), he’s continued to be his voice. But today, it is announced at New York Times from which he withdraws completely sesame street after 50 years.
“Big Bird has brought me so many places, opened my mind and fed my soul,” Spinney said in a statement released by Sesame Workshop. But, he says, it’s time to move on. Matt Vogel, who does Count von Count on sesame street plus a bunch of other Muppet characters (including my favorite, the villainous Constantine from Most Wanted Muppets), will reprise the role of Big Bird.
The ability to delight millions of children – and adults too – all over the world is priceless and often taken for granted. Luckily, our Big Bird doesn’t seem to be forgotten: Caroll Spinney has a net worth of $8 million, according to the Celebrity Net Worth site.
It wasn’t always like this: Spinney’s first puppet show brought in just $0.32.
Let no one tell you that puppeteering is an easy path to wealth. When Spinney put on his first puppet show, he made less than a dollar. Then again, he was only 8 years old at the time. He said The Guardian how this experience put him on the path to sesame treet.
When I was eight years old, I bought my first puppet. It was a monkey, and I paid five cents for it. I picked up scrap wood and built myself a puppet theatre. I made 32 cents with my first show, which I thought was pretty good, and that’s when I knew I was going to be a puppeteer when I grew up.
In fact, making 32 cents on a five cent investment is pretty good. Perhaps you should start with subtlety by leaving puppets for your children.
Everything changed when Spinney met Jim Henson.
The couple met at – where else? – a puppet show, at the Salt Lake City Puppet Festival in 1969. Spinney performed and, according to The New York Times, it didn’t go so well.
“Henson watched him try to pull off a multi-media show that gradually went awry,” the newspaper wrote. “As Spinney recalled, Henson came to him afterwards to say, ‘I liked what you were trying to do. Shortly after, Henson invited Spinney to play two Muppet characters that were being developed for sesame street which made its public television debut later that year.”
This encounter began a nearly five-decade career with the show. At first, Spinney says in his memoirs, The wisdom of Big Bird (and the dark genius of Oscar the Grouch), he nearly quit the show because he couldn’t make ends meet in New York on his own. sesame street salary. He was convinced by one of the puppet builders – a man named Kermit Love – to give him some extra time. Fortunately, he did. And his salary has gone up.
A New York Times A 1998 article reported that he made over $100,000 a year playing Big Bird and Oscar. (He also notes that the show is where he met his wife, Debra, who was a secretary in the Muppet office – sesame street really gave him everything.)
At the start of the decade, Spinney’s salary was over $300,000.
Since The Sesame Workshop is a non-profit organization, it must publish its financial information every year, including a list of salaries for key employees. In 2010, Spinney made the list, the Atlantic reports, with a whopping salary of $314,072.
However, in the past three years of financial disclosures available on The Sesame Workshop’s website, Spinney was no longer on the list of highest paid employees. The only artist on the list was former head writer Joey Mazzarino (salary: $535,033!), who now works on Jim Carrey’s Showtime show. Joke, which also deals with the world of puppet-based children’s television programming. According to the latest information available, no writer / performer was on the list of the highest paid key employees.
There is also a Big Bird book and movie
If you want to know more about what it’s like to see the world through the eyes of a tall, yellow, perpetual 6-year-old, Spinney is keeping no secrets. In addition to Big Bird’s Wisdom, there is also the documentary I am a big bird, where he traces his life and career. The heartwarming doc gives a sense of what it’s like to be part of the Sesame Street family — beyond the salary numbers.
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