Puppeteer who plays Big Bird on Sesame Street retiring

NEW YORK NY- OCTOBER 09 Caroll Spinney 'Oscar and Big Bird' attends SiriusXM's Town Hall with original cast members from Sesame Street commemorating the 45th anniversary of the celebrated series debut on public television moderated by We

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

Puppeteer Caroll Spinney, who has played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since the show's premiere in 1969, announced Wednesday that he is stepping down from both iconic roles.

After more than 4,000 episodes voicing characters and embodying Big Bird, the balance and physical stamina required to play the characters became a bit too much. The actor said he plans to spend the rest of his life as an ambassador for Sesame Workshop at conventions and other public appearances. After all, we're a family!

Big Bird and Oscar aren't going anywhere.

Spinney joined Sesame Street when it started back in 1969. "Big Bird helped me find my objective", Spinney said. Jeffrey Dunn, the president and chief executive for the Sesame Workshop, told The Times that, "Big Bird has always had the biggest heart on Sesame Street, and that's Caroll's gift to us..." And even Oscar, once in a while! "They have given me great joy, led me to my true calling and created a lifetime of memories that I will cherish forever".

He explored puppeteering throughout his childhood and teenage years and used his performances to raise money for college tuition.

Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder of the non-profit media and educational organization, called Spinney "one of the leading lights of Sesame Street from the very beginning" and praised his "genius" and "talent". 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.

Spinney has been the man inside the Big Bird suit and Oscar's trash can for years.

So who's taking Spinney's place?

"I'd worked on a few different shows before I got the job playing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch in the first season of Sesame Street", he added. Jacobson does Grover, Bert and Guy Smiley for Sesame Street and Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy for Disney's Muppets.

Some of his final recording session will be included in the Sesame Street 50th anniversary special set to air in 2019 on HBO.

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