Published: Sun, December 08, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Sesame Street puppeteer Carroll Spinney dies at age 85

Sesame Street puppeteer Carroll Spinney dies at age 85

He retired from voicing Big Bird past year and his apprentice, Matt Vogel, who also plays Kermit the Frog, took over.

A puppeteer who helped bring life to some of the best-known characters on Sesame Street has died.

Big Bird visited China with Bob Hope in 1979 and even showed off his massive dancing skills with with the Rockettes and prima ballerina Cynthia Gregory. His most recent win was in 2007 for performer in a children's series for Oscar the Grouch.

He starred in thousands of "Sesame Street" episodes - more than any other cast member - and it was certainly no walk in the park controlling the 8-foot bird costume.

He won five Daytime Emmys for his work on the show and also nabbed a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Fox News reported.

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"Before I came to Sesame Street, I didn't feel like what I was doing was important", he said. Once back in Boston, he was part of the "Bozo the Clown Show" before Henson brought him to Sesame Street. He also appeared in 2009's "Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian" as Oscar the Grouch. Eventually, Spinney said he turned BB into a "big kid" character - and the rest was history.

Oscar the Grouch and Caroll Spinney attend Eight Over Eighty 2016 Gala.

"Caroll and Big Bird are very similar in their genuine niceness and sweetness and lovingness", said Joan Ganz Conney, co-founder of the Sesame Workshop said in a video tribute to Spinney previous year. "We at Sesame Workshop mourn his passing and feel an huge gratitude for all he has given to Sesame Street and to children around the world".

Spinney voiced and operated the two characters from their inception in 1969 when he was 36, and performed them nearly exclusively into his 80s. Our hearts go out to his beloved wife, Debra, and all of his children and grandchildren.

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