Big Bird puppeteer retiring from ‘Sesame Street’ after almost 50 years

Caroll Spinney Sesame Street

Sesame Street's Original Big Bird Is Saying Goodbye: Caroll Spinney Announces Retirement

Spinney even met his wife of 45 years, Debra, on the Sesame Street set in 1973.

A spokesperson for the show told The New York Times that Spinney, 84, performed in thousands of the show's 4,400-plus episodes. "Big Bird helped me find my goal", Spinney said.

An indelible part of the Sesame Street family, Spinney is pleased that his iconic roles will be carried on by puppeteers he mentored for more than 20 years. "Playing Big Bird is one of the most joyous things of my life".

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The actor behind Big Bird is retiring after 50 years. Since then, he has only provided the voices for Big Bird and Oscar.

After a almost 50-year career on the beloved children's program, the puppeteer announced on Wednesday that he'll be handing the reins ― or strings rather ― over to his longtime apprentice, Matt Vogel.

A few years ago, Spinney stopped doing the puppeteering of Big Bird, The New York Times notes, but continued to voice him and Oscar.

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Spinney's five decades portraying the beloved characters left him in the shadows, even as Big Bird and Oscar became famous worldwide. When I tried it out, Jim and the writers agreed, and soon Big Bird grew into a worldwide superstar.

"Caroll has been one of the leading lights of Sesame Street from the very beginning", Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder of Sesame Workshop, said in a statement. Spinney told The Times. Two puppeteers who Spinney has personally trained for more than 20 years: Matt Vogel, now the "Puppet Captain" on Sesame Street and the performer of Count Von Count and Kermit the Frog for the Disney Muppets, will play Big Bird going forward.

He was in the cast when the show first premiered back in 1969, making his tenure on TV just shy of 50 years.

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Outside of Sesame Street, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch have also appeared in multiple Muppet movies, including The Muppet Movie and The Muppets Take Manhattan, the feature-length-film Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird is a must-watch for children.

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