The Original Big Bird Puppeteer Is Retiring After Almost 50 Years on Sesame Street
Big Bird is hanging up his feathers.
Carroll Spinney, the puppeteer who plays Big Bird on Sesame Street, is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.
Spinney told the New York Times that Thursday will mark his last day on the beloved program. Along with Big Bird, Spinney has also voiced Oscar the Grouch since he joined the show in 1969.
“I always thought, how fortunate for me that I got to play the two best Muppets?” he told the NYT.
Spinney, 84, recorded more than 4,400 episodes as the two puppets, according to the NYT.
“Playing Big Bird is one of the most joyous things of my life,” he said.
Spinney said the physical requirements of performing the characters had become difficult in recent years, and he developed problems with his balance.
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He stopped puppeteering Big Bird in 2015 and currently only provides the voices for him and Oscar.
Spinney’s retirement coincides with the 50th anniversary of the show. His last voice recording for the two characters will be used during the celebrations episodes — next year on HBO and in 2020 on PBS.
“Big Bird has always had the biggest heart on Sesame Street, and that’s Caroll’s gift to us,” said Jeffrey Dunn, the president and chief executive of Sesame Workshop. “I think it’s fair to say that Caroll’s view of the world and how we should treat each other has shaped and defined our organization.”
Spinney’s apprentice, Matt Vogel, will succeed him in the Big Bird role.