Spinney was 85
Caroll Spinney, the man who puppeteered Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street for almost 50 years, has passed away. Spinney was at his Connecticut home after living with Dystonia for some time. Dystonia is a mobility disorder in which a patient's muscles contract uncontrollably. Although Spinney had the illness, he only retired from Sesame Street in 2018 after being on the show since 1969.
Spinney starred in more Sesame Street episodes than any other cast member, and also handled puppeteer duties for Big Bird and Oscar on their other guest appearances such as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Colbert Report. The legendary Jim Henson brought Spinney on-board, and he remained with the cast ever since. Spinney also performed his characters in live concerts around the globe, at the White House, and was featured in films, documentaries and record albums. His death was announced by Sesame Workshop.
Infamously, Spinney controlled Big Bird from the inside with hands, wires, and a TV monitor strapped to his chest to guide him around the studio. “I think most people completely forget what it was like being a kid by the time they grow up,” he told The New York Times in 1982. “But I never got over it. It was almost a problem for me, in fact, trying to grow up enough, even when I went into the Air Force.”