The puppeteer responsible for Sesame Street‘s Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, Caroll Spinney, has retired, after almost 50 years as bonafide Muppet.
Doesn’t seem like much, until you remember that this is the bloke who voiced and moved around two iconic characters from our collective childhoods. I literally carried a Big Bird wedged between my elbow and side at all times when I was a kid. Big Bird is important.
The official Sesame Street account revealed the news on Twitter today with a departing quote from Hollywood Walk of Famer Spinney:
Before I came to Sesame Street, I didn’t feel like what I was doing was very important. Big Bird helped me find my purpose. Even as I step down from my roles, I feel I will always be Big Bird. And even Oscar, once in a while! They have given me great joy, led me to my true calling and created a lifetime of memories that I will cherish forever.
Long-time puppeteer Caroll Spinney has announced that he is stepping down from the roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. Spinney is pleased that his iconic roles will be carried on by puppeteers Matt Vogel and Eric Jacobson. Learn more: https://t.co/BALgkIPI5q pic.twitter.com/sGMDjqLklQ— Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) October 17, 2018
Spinney met Muppets creator Jim Henson at a puppeteering festival in 1962, and was brought on board to play Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since Sesame Street premiered in 1969.He’s succeeded in the roles by his understudies Matt Vogel and Eric Jacobson.
In a press release from Sesame Workshop, a non-profit producing educational programs and initiatives for kids, Spinney had even more parting words, talking about how the loveable big yellow bird “nurtured my soul“, and emphasising the excellent work of his successors.
Big Bird brought me so many places, opened my mind and nurtured my soul. And I plan to be an ambassador for Sesame Workshop for many years to come. After all, we’re a family! But now it’s time for two performers that I have worked with and respected – and actually hand-picked for the guardianship of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch – to take my alter-egos into their hands and continue to give them life.
For pics of Spinney in action, featuring very ’70s haircuts, head over to their website HERE.
Thanks for all your hard work, Caroll.
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Image: Getty Images / Robin Marchant