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Sesame Street Icon Caroll Spinney, the Man Who Brought Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to Life, Is Retiring

Caroll Spinney has played both Big Bird and Oscar the Ground on Sesame Street since 1969. And after almost 50 years in these iconic roles, Spinney is retiring.

The New York Times reported today that Spinney will go to the studio Thursday to record his lines, and then he will be leaving the beloved children’s program:

Asked if he had long been contemplating his departure from “Sesame Street,” where he has worked since its debut, Spinney answered, “No, not at all.”

But in recent years, Spinney said, the physical requirements of performing the characters had become difficult for him, and he had developed problems with his balance. He stopped doing the puppeteering for Big Bird in 2015 and has since been providing only the voices for him and Oscar.

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? Playing Big Bird is one of the most joyous things of my life.”

Sesame Workshop said in a statement that the roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch will be, respectively, performed by Matt Vogel and Eric Jacobson.

They posted a video tribute to Spinney’s many, many years of work, which you can watch above.

A few years ago, after the movie Birdman came out, Spinney starred in a wonderful “Big Birdman” spoof, which you can check out here:

[image via screengrab]

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