Carroll Spinney’s name may not sound very familiar to many of us, but his work is known by millions of people. For 46 years, Spinney has been the puppeteer for Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on the beloved children’s program Sesame Street.
Having such an extensive career has undoubtedly given Spinney a wealth of stories and memories. Recently, he shared an incredibly touching moment he had several years ago, with a young cancer patient named Joey:
I got a letter from a fan who said his little boy, who was 5 years old, his name was Joey, he was dying of cancer.
And he was so ill, the little boy knew he was dying.
So the man, in his letter, asked if I would call the little boy. He said the only thing that cheered him at all in his fading state was to see Big Bird on television.
So once in a while, he wouldn’t see Big Bird on some days, because he wasn’t necessarily in every show. So he asked could I telephone him, and talk to the boy, tell him what a good boy he’s been.
So I took a while to look up a phone, because this was before cell phones. And they got a long cord to bring a phone to the boy.
And I had Big Bird say “Hello! Hello Joey! It’s me, Big Bird!”
So he said “Is it really you, Big Bird?”
“Yes, it is.”
I chatted a while with him, about ten minutes, and he said “I’m glad you’re my friend Big Bird.” And I said “I’d better let you go now.”
He said “Thank you for calling me Big Bird. You’re my friend. You make me happy.”
Joey’s parents were with him when he received the call from Big Bird, and were elated that Spinney took the time out of his busy day to contact their son. Spinney went on to tell the remainder of what had transpired after the phone call that day:
And so his father wrote to me right away, and said “Thank you, thank you” – he hadn’t seen him smile since October, and this was in March – and when the phone was hung up, he said “Big Bird called me! He’s my friend.”
And he closed his eyes. And he passed away.
Needless to say, I think we might all need a moment after reading this. Incredible story, Mr. Spinney.