Long-time Sesame Street puppeteer announces retirement

Nation & World

NEW YORK, NY (NBC) – A performer beloved by generations of kids is moving away from Sesame Street.

Don’t worry, Big Bird is staying… But the man who brought him to life for five decades is ending his amazing run on the show.

For 50 years Carol Spinney was a puppeteer in search of a purpose when Muppet creator Jim Henson asked him to join his team.  

“He said, I’m going to be involved in a new show called Sesame Street and would you be interested in working with the Muppets,” Spinney recalled. 
In the day-to-day goings-on of Sesame Street, there needed to be an innocent — A character without guile.   

His was a child’s voice that came from the beak of an eight-foot-two-inch bird.    

“I was one of those kids who always wanted to do the right thing, so that’s what Big Bird is always trying to be. A good kid,” he said.  

Awkward, flightless and sweet. Big Bird was the  perfect counterpart to Oscar the Grouch… who was also played by Spinney.   

“Oscar’s kinda cool. It’s fun to play somebody very different then oneself. Big Bird is my kid. In some ways I love him best.”

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