Fans, look away as this is the end of an era for Sesame Street. Caroll Spinney just announced his retirement from the series. Don’t know who Caroll Spinney is? Sure you do, he is the Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. He has been a puppeteer with Sesame Street since the show premiered in 1969. In a statement announcing his retirement, the 84-year-old said:
Big Bird brought me so many places, opened my mind and nurtured my soul. And I plan to be an ambassador for Sesame Workshop for many years to come. After all, we’re a family!
He then continued:
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.
Continuing to reminisce on his time at Sesame Street, Spinney recalled how his characters helped him in real life, saying:
Before I came to Sesame Street, I didn’t feel like what I was doing was very important. Big Bird helped me find my purpose. Even as I step down from my roles, I feel I will always be Big Bird. And even Oscar, once in a while!
They have given me great joy, led me to my true calling and created a lifetime of memories that I will cherish forever.
Spinney was actually a puppeteer throughout his childhood and even used some money from his performances to pay for his college. After completing his service at the Air Force, he went on to be a professional puppeteer in Las Vegas before meeting Jim Henson in the 1960s.
Joan Ganz Cooney, the co-founder of Sesame Workshop also talked about Spinney’s important role in a statement released, saying:
Caroll has been one of the leading lights of Sesame Street from the very beginning. His genius and his talent made Big Bird the most beloved yellow-feathered friend across the globe.
He continued praising his brilliant way of bringing the beloved characters to life, saying:
But the sheer artistry of Caroll is that he also brought Oscar to life and made him the most lovable Grouch in the world.
But don’t worry fans, Big Bird and Oscar are not going anywhere as Matt Vogel is taking over the role of Big Bird and Eric Jacobson will play Oscar the Grouch. The Sesame Workshop’s president and CEO, Jeffrey D. Dunn said that Spinney has worked alongside and mentored Vogel and Jacobson for more than 20 years now:
Since 1969, Caroll’s kind and loving view of the world has helped shape and define this institution.
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.
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