Legendary “Sesame Street” Puppeteer, Caroll Spinney, Dies at 85


Gil Vaknin

Caroll Spinney, Sesame Street puppeteer, dies at age 85.

Jasmeen Rivera, Reporter

Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer behind the well-known “Big Bird” and “Oscar the Grouch” from television show “Sesame Street” has died at the age of 85. Spinney worked on the show for nearly 50 years before getting diagnosed with neurological movement disorder called dystonia that caused multiple symptoms, including muscle contractions and cramping. Spinney retired in 2018 after his diagnosis. According to a press release from Sesame Workshop, he died in his home in Connecticut.

“Caroll Spinney’s contributions to Sesame Street are countless. He not only gave us Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, he gave so much of himself as well,” Sesame Street co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney said in the press release. The puppeteer was adored for his work on the famous television show for children as a gentle person with a “loving view of the world.” His character as Big Bird was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, while also being featured on postage stamps, and being named by the Library of Congress as a “Living Legend” in 2000. Spinney was also the center of the documentary “I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story” where they explored his life and the inspiration of his creations on Sesame Street.

After fifty years of bringing joy to the world, Spinney stepped down from his role and many saw it as an end of an era. Spinney’s five decade portrayal of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch left him as an icon worldwide. Fans took to social media after the release of his death. One Twitter user saying, “Big Bird and Oscar were two of my favorite characters on Sesame Street back in the day and Mr. Spinney REALLY brought them to life…my condolences to his family. May he rest in peace.”

Spinney died on the same day that “Sesame Street” was being presented a honor at the Kennedy Center for their achievements in the arts.