‘Sesame Street’ puppeteer for Big Bird retires


Caroll Spinney, who starred in and portrayed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, is retiring from “Sesame Street” after 50 years. He’s been on the show since its inception in 1969. (He even met his wife, Debra, on set in 1972.) The 84-year-old’s last day will be Thursday.

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Spinney retired from puppetry in 2015 due to age, but continued to voice the two iconic characters. While the original cast member may be stepping down from the show, Big Bird isn’t going away anytime soon. Matt Vogel, who has apprenticed with Spinney since 1996, will succeed Spinney in the role. Vogel is Kermit the Frog’s current puppeteer.

“Before coming to Sesame Street, I didn’t feel like what I was doing was very important. Big Bird helped me find my purpose,” Spinney said in a statement.

“Even if I quit my roles, I feel like I will always be Big Bird. 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.

Here’s an excerpt from one of Spinney’s most memorable portrayals of Big Bird. When Will Lee, who played Mr. Hooper, died in 1982, the show took the initiative to incorporate his passing into the show. In this clip, Big Bird struggles to understand the meaning of death.

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