'Sesame Street' Icon Caroll Spinney Is Retiring After 50 Years

'Sesame Street' Icon Caroll Spinney Is Retiring After 50 Years

Caroll Spinney has played both Big Bird and Oscar the Ground on Sesame Street since 1969. "But the sheer artistry of Caroll is that he also brought Oscar to life and made him the most lovable Grouch in the world".

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

Jeffrey Dunn, president of Sesame Workshop, said Spinney's work over the past half century has been a gift to the world. It was Spinney, victor of a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award, who made the decision to play Big Bird as "a child, a surrogate", rather than "a amusing, dumb country yokel". "I said, 'I think Big Bird might be more useful to the show if he were a child learning all the things we were teaching in the show.' And so he didn't know the alphabet, even, for instance". When I tried it out, Jim and the writers agreed, and soon Big Bird grew into a worldwide superstar. "They have given me great joy, led me to my true calling - and my wonderful wife! - and created a lifetime of memories that I will cherish forever". The physical requirements (especially for Big Bird) were almost out of range for him, and in 2015 he stopped puppeteering the big yellow guy.

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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 stopped doing the puppeteering for Big Bird in 2015 and now only provides the voices for him and Oscar.

He was in the cast when the show first premiered back in 1969, making his tenure on TV just shy of 50 years. Vogel also fills the role of Count von Count on Sesame Street, while Jacobson now plays Grover, Bert and Guy Smiley on the series. The 84-year-old puppeteer announced to The New York Times that after the impending 50th anniversary of beloved children's show in 2020, Spinney will hang up his wings and pass on the roles "to new performers".

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