‘Sesame Street’ Legend Caroll Spinney Is Done Playing Big Bird And Oscar The Grouch After 50 Years

Senior Pop Culture Editor
10.17.18

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Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, arguably the two most recognizable characters on inarguably the most iconic children’s television program ever, Sesame Street, are performed by the same person: Caroll Spinney. He’s been with the PBS-turned-HBO series since its first episode, on November 10, 1969, but after nearly 50 years on the job, Spinney is retiring, with his roles being “passed on to new performers” (understudy Matt Vogel has been in the eight-foot two-inch tall bird suit since 2016, but Spinney still provided the voice).

“I always thought, How fortunate for me that I got to play the two best Muppets?” Spinney, who met Jim Henson in 1962, told the New York Times. “Playing Big Bird is one of the most joyous things of my life.” The physical toll was too much for the 84-year-old, and he “developed problems with his balance.” Vogel, who’s also taken over performing Kermit the Frog and Count von Count in recent years, called replacing Spinney “daunting and important.”

“The more I do the character, the more that I try to preserve what I think Caroll’s intentions were,” he said. “Inevitably, part of our own personality starts to creep into those characters. But that’s the way they live on.” (Via)

Outside of Sesame Street, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch have also appeared in multiple Muppet movies, including The Muppet Movie and The Muppets Take Manhattan, the feature-length-film Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird is a must-watch for children. Also, “I Love Trash” was, and still is, a certified jam.

And this was, and still is, the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.

(Via the New York Times)

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