Caroll Spinney, who gave Big Bird his warmth and Oscar the Grouch his growl for nearly 50 years on “Sesame Street,” died Sunday at the age of 85 at his Connecticut home, according to the Sesame Workshop.
Spinney, of Woodstock, Connecticut, had been living with dystonia for some time, officials said.
Sesame Street posted on Facebook that “since 1969, Caroll’s caring and loving worldview has helped shape and define Sesame Street.”
“His enormous talent and oversized heart were perfectly suited to play the larger-than-life yellow bird that has delighted countless fans of all ages across the world, and his adorably cantankerous grumpy has given us all permission. to be cranky every now and then. In these characters, Caroll Spinney gave the world something really special, “the post continues.
Spinney has voiced and operated the two main Muppets since their inception in 1969 when he was 36, and performed them almost exclusively until he was 80 on the PBS children’s TV show which then went on. at HBO.
“Before I came to ‘Sesame Street’ I didn’t feel like what I was doing was very important,” Spinney said when he announced his retirement in 2018. “Big Bird helped me find it. my objective.”
Thanks to his two characters, Spinney gained immense fame which earned him international tours, books, record albums, movie roles and visits to the White House.
Spinney’s death came on the same day “Sesame Street” is slated to receive a Kennedy Center Lifetime Award. “Sesame Street” co-founders Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett will accept the award on behalf of the show.
“Caroll was an artistic genius whose kind and loving view of the world helped shape and define Sesame Street from his early days in 1969 through five decades, and his legacy here at Sesame Workshop and in the cultural firmament will be endless. ”, The Sesame Workshop mentioned.
Spinney said in 2018 that the physical demands of portraying the characters had become difficult and he had developed balance issues. He stopped working as a puppeteer for Big Bird in 2015 and only provided vocals for himself and Oscar until his retirement.