After 50 Years, a Final Bow for Original Big Bird

Brenda Watkins
October 18, 2018

But, 50 years since he stepped into the big, yellow suit, Spinney is flying the coop.

Spinney explained during to The New York Times that his fading health was the impetus for leaving the show.

The 84-year-old puppeteer originated the roles of the gentle giant Big Bird and the trash-loving Oscar the Grouch since the show's inception in 1969, but the physically demanding roles have taken a toll on Spinney and he "developed problems with his balance". "And I plan to be an ambassador for Sesame Workshop for many years to come".

"Big Bird brought me so many places, opened my mind and nurtured my soul", he said in a statement announcing his retirement.

Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch aren't going anywhere, but the man who brought them to life for the past 50 years Caroll Spinney is stepping away from the childhood icons. He also served in the United States Air Force, but he said that Sesame Street's positive message to its young audience made him feel like he was really fulfilling a goal in life. "Playing Big Bird is one of the most joyous things of my life".

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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. When I tried it out, Jim and the writers agreed, and soon Big Bird grew into a worldwide superstar. "And even Oscar, once in a while!", he added.

"Before I came to Sesame Street, I didn't feel like what I was doing was very important", Spinney said.

He told the Times that he's had very few regrets in his long career and said, "I always thought, How fortunate for me that I got to play the two best Muppets?". Spinney told The Times. Jacobson does Grover, Bert and Guy Smiley for Sesame Street and Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy for Disney's Muppets.

Matt Vogel, Sesame Street's Puppet Captain who took over Kermit the Frog from puppeteer Steve Whitmire, will now take over as Big Bird.

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