Passes to the Oscar of Sesame Street and Big Bird puppeteer Caroll Spinney



The puppeteer behind Sesame Street’s Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, Caroll Spinney, has died at age 85 after a long battle with dystonia.

Sesame Street Puppeteer Caroll Spinney passed away today, December 8, 2019, at the age of 85. Spinney had been with Sesame Street from the start in 1969, bringing the merry Big Bird and lovable Oscar the Grouch to life for five decades. Spinney was greeted on Sesame Street by creator Jim Henson, who took Spinney under his wing and what started as a mentorship between the two quickly grew into a long-standing friendship. Henson credited Spinney as one of the people who shaped and defined Sesame Street. His legacy and influence on the series will be forever eternal.

He not only brightened up millions of children’s days as Big Bird via the small screen, but he also joined Big Bird to dance with the Rockettes, being honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and named “Living legendby the United States Library of Congress. Spinney claimed one of his favorite moments with Big Bird conducted and performed with a symphony orchestra touring the United States, Australia and China, and connected with families around the world.


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Sesame Workshop announced the death of Caroll Spinney earlier today. Spinney died in his Connecticut home after fighting a long battle with dystonia. He is survived by his beloved wife Debra, his children and his grandchildren. While Spinney retired from Sesame Street in October 2018, Big Bird and Oscar have honored and will continue to honor their original creator’s legacy on Sesame Street. The official Sesame Street Twitter account also graced Spinney in a tweet.

Fans paid tribute by commenting on nostalgic love posts below the official announcement, making sure to return the love Spinney has given them for decades. Sesame Street co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney, also mourned the loss of her dear friend with a love message on Sesame Workshop, stating: “Caroll Spinney’s contributions to Sesame Street are endless. He not only gave us Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, he also gave a lot of himself. At Sesame Workshop, we mourn his passing and feel immense gratitude for all he has given to Sesame Street and to children around the world.

Spinney was a multi-talented artistic genius who played a big part in Sesame Street success as shown by one of the oldest children. Not only was he a talented puppeteer, but he created and brought to life two of the show’s most memorable characters. He played an enthusiastic, larger-than-life Big Bird. His Big Bird had a heart of gold and always knew how to help his friends. Within the same show, he was able to create a character that is almost the opposite. Oscar the Grouch represented the importance of anger and the ability to express all emotions, even the most negative. Yet like anyone who resorts to anger, Oscar had a real vulnerability and a desire to connect with his home on him. Sesame Street. Over his impressive 50-year career, Spinney has managed to keep the same youth and energy in his characters that he had from the start. His career has bridged the generation gap and brought loved ones closer together. Rest in peace to this legendary Sesame Street artist.

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Source: Sesame Workshop/Twitter

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