Caroll Spinney, Who Played Big Bird And Oscar The Grouch On ‘Sesame Street’ For Decades, Has Died

A little over a year after finally retiring from his long tenure on Sesame Street, actor and puppeteer Caroll Spinney has died at the age of 85. The long-running children’s educational program broke the news via its official Twitter account, which also provided a link to a more detailed press release and obituary at the Sesame Street workshop’s website.

After joining Jim Henson back in 1969, Spinney helped create iconic characters like the tall-but-gentle-giant Big Bird and the hilariously and curmudgeonly Oscar the Grouch, who lived in his humble trash can. There he stayed, performing these characters and many others for both the televised program and its numerous live performances, many of which saw him travel abroad to China, Australia, and spots all over the globe. And if that weren’t enough, Spinney kept at it until late last year, when he finally retired to his Connecticut home after decades of good work.

In a statement, Sesame Street co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney exclaimed that Spinney’s contributions to the acclaimed television series were “countless”:

“He not only gave us Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, he gave so much of himself as well. We at Sesame Workshop mourn his passing and feel an immense gratitude for all he has given to Sesame Street and to children around the world.”

Spinney died in his home early Sunday morning after living with Dystonia, a neurological movement disorder, for much of his later life.