VFX 'Sesame Street' puppeteer, Caroll Spinney passes away

‘Sesame Street’ puppeteer, Caroll Spinney passes away

Sesame Street puppeteer Caroll Spinney has died at age 85 at his home in Connecticut. Spinney brought to life the beloved characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.

The news was shared on the Sesame Street Facebook page, which read:

Since 1969, Caroll’s kind and loving view of the world helped shape and define Sesame Street. His enormous talent and outsized heart were perfectly suited to playing the larger-than-life yellow bird who brought joy to countless fans of all ages around the world, and his lovably cantankerous grouch gave us all permission to be cranky once in a while. In these characters, 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. Our hearts go out to his beloved wife, Debra, and all of his children and grandchildren. We will miss him dearly.

Spinney was with the show since its first season, and retired last year.He met Jim Henson in 1962 at a puppeteering festival, and reconnected seven years later when Henson saw him perform at the Puppeteers of America festival, and sought him out. Spinney joined Sesame Street in its inaugural season in 1969.

Spinney also wrote (as Oscar) the picture book How to Be a Grouch (with J. Milligan) and The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from a Life in Feathers. He also narrated the audiobook of Michael Davis’ Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street, and was the subject of the 2014 feature documentary I Am Big Bird.