Sesame Street Big Bird Oscar The Grouch Retires after nearly 50 years.
The voice of the two characters Caroll Spinney called it quits.
The 84-year old has not been in great health lately.
For generations Spinney delighted audiences with playing gentle, curious Big Bird and grumpy Oscar the Grouch.
He started with the show on its premiere in 1969.
“Big Bird brought me so many places, opened my mind and nurtured my soul,” says Spinney.
“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.”
Sesame Street Big Bird Oscar The Grouch Retires
His interest in puppetry began at an early age.
And money he made from performing was used to pay for his college education.
After serving in the United States air force he became a professional puppeteer.
He performed in Boston and Las Vegas.
He met Jim Henson in 1962 at a puppetry festival.
Henson invited him to be a part of this new show – Sesame Street – he was creating.
In an interview with National Public Radio Spinney recalls his meeting with Henson.
“He said, ‘Why don’t you come down to New York and talk about the Muppets?’
“I have some characters I want to build. One is a tall, funny-looking bird and the other’s going to be this grouchy character who’s going to live in a pile of trash in the gutter.”
“Since 1969, Caroll’s kind and loving view of the world has helped shape and define this institution,” says Sesame Workshop President and CEO Jeffrey Dunn.
“Throughout his unparalleled career, Caroll Spinney gave something truly special to the world. With deepest admiration, Sesame Workshop is proud to carry his legacy — and his beloved characters — into the future.”