Caroll Spinney, puppeteer and voice behind Big Bird, dead at 85

Caroll Spinney, puppeteer and voice behind Big Bird, dead at 85

Caroll Spinney, who was the voice of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on “Sesame Street,” has died, the show announced Sunday. He was 85.

The famed puppeteer died Sunday at his home in Connecticut after suffering for “some time” from dystonia, a neurological movement disorder, the show said.

“Caroll was an artistic genius whose kind and loving view of the world helped shape and define Sesame Street from its earliest days in 1969 through five decades, and his legacy here at Sesame Workshop and in the cultural firmament will be unending,” the show said in a statement.

“His enormous talent and outsized heart were perfectly suited to playing the larger-than-life yellow bird who brought joy to generations of children and countless fans of all ages around the world, and his lovably cantankerous grouch gave us all permission to be cranky once in a while.”

Spinney played the two iconic characters on “Sesame Street” since is debut in 1969 before he announced his retirement last year. His chronic health issues forced him to give up puppeteering for Big Bird in 2015, but he continued to provide the voices for both characters.

“Caroll Spinney’s contributions to Sesame Street are countless. He not only gave us Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, he gave so much of himself as well,” Sesame Street co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney said in a statement. “We at Sesame Workshop mourn his passing and feel an immense gratitude for all he has given to Sesame Street and to children around the world.”

He leaves behind his wife, Debra, who he met on set in 1973, in addition to children and grandchildren.

Caroll Spinney
Caroll SpinneyGetty Images

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