The puppeteer of Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird, who brought the characters to life for the past 50 years, has announced his retirement. Caroll Spinney has played the iconic Sesame Street characters since the series began in 1969.
According to The Daily Mail, the 84-year-old Spinney will be recording his voice for Oscar and Big Bird for the last time this month. Up until 2015, Spinney had provided the voice and puppetry for the characters. Eventually, the physical demand required him to only do voices. Over the course of his career, Spinney has given life to the characters in thousands of episodes.
Spinney decided that the time was right to announce his retirement, with the 50th anniversary of Sesame Street approaching. Regarding his career, Spinney said: “Playing Big Bird is one of the most joyous things of my life”. “I always thought, how fortunate for me that I got to play the two best Muppets?”
Spinney connected his career in puppetry, to his early fascination with the art. After learning puppetry through his childhood and young adult years, Spinney and Jim Henson crossed paths at a puppet festival. Henson was impressed with Spinney’s talent and mix of animation and live-action puppetry. Henson then invited him to join the Muppets team and work on the new show, Sesame Street.
Over the course of his career with Sesame Street, Spinney has been awarded four Daytime Emmys and two Grammys for his work on the show.
What’s your favorite memory of Sesame Street and the characters that Spinney brought to life?
To read more about Carrol Spinney and his career with Sesame Street, click here.