Friday, 20 September, 2019

Puppeteer who played Big Bird on ‘Sesame Street’ retiring

039;Sesame Street' puppeteer Caroll Spinney the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch announces his retirement Caroll Spinney is moving on from"Sesame Street after nearly 50 years
Lora Ball | 18 October, 2018, 19:15

For the first time in almost 49 years, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch just won't be the same: Lifelong puppeteer Caroll Spinney has announced his retirement. He was in the cast when the show first premiered back in 1969, making his tenure on TV just shy of 50 years.

Puppeteer Caroll Spinney who brought Big Bird to life on the iconic children's television series since its debut in 1969 is retiring.

"Big Bird brought me so many places, opened my mind and nurtured my soul", Spinney said in a statement released Wednesday by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization that produces the show. After all, we're a family!

FILE- In this April 10, 2008, file photo puppeteer Caroll Spinney is interviewed during a break from taping an episode of "Sesame Street" in NY.

"Before I came to Sesame Street, I didn't feel like what I was doing was very important", Caroll Spinney says.

Spinney's wife, Deb, said he's much more like Big Bird than Oscar, who, according to Spinney, was inspired by a grouchy waiter at an old seafood restaurant in Manhattan and the voice from a New York City cabbie who once gave Spinney a lift.

His life and career have been documented in the widely-acclaimed 2014 film, I Am Big Bird. And even Oscar, once in a while!

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Spinney's apprentice, Matt Vogel, will assume the iconic roles (he now already plays Kermit the Frog and Count von Count).

FILE- In this April 10, 2008, file photo Lynn Finkel, stage manager for "Sesame Street" slates a taping with Big Bird in NY.

Big Bird visited China with Bob Hope in 1979 and even showed off his massive dancing skills with with the Rockettes and prima ballerina Cynthia Gregory.

What the countless viewers who've been touched by Spinney's sweetness and gentle sensibility might not know is that he has been a prolific illustrator and painter since childhood.

Caroll Spinney has been with Sesame Street since the beginning.

Spinney has done puppetry from a young age.

Matt Vogel, Sesame Street's Puppet Captain who took over Kermit the Frog from puppeteer Steve Whitmire, will now take over as Big Bird.

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