Puppeteer who played Big Bird on 'Sesame Street' retiring

Puppeteer who played Big Bird on 'Sesame Street' retiring

"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. The 84-year-old joined "Sesame Street" at its inception in 1969. Spinney has won six Emmys, an Emmy lifetime achievement award and two Grammys during his time with the program and was even the subject of a 2004 documentary, I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story.

His life and career have been documented in the widely-acclaimed 2014 film, I Am Big Bird.

Spinney's five decades portraying the beloved characters left him in the shadows, even as Big Bird and Oscar became famous worldwide. They have given me great joy, led me to my true calling - and my wonderful wife!

"Caroll has been one of the leading lights of Sesame Street from the very beginning", said Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder of Sesame Workshop. He stopped doing the puppeteering for Big Bird in 2015 and has since been providing only the voices for him and Oscar. He's since appeared in "thousands of the more than 4,400 episodes", according to a spokesperson from Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind the television show.

Sesame Street, created by Jim Henson and now airing first-run episodes on HBO after 45 years on PBS, said a pair of puppeteers mentored by Spinney will take over his roles. 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 says the physical requirements of performing the characters had become hard and he developed problems with his balance. Eric Jacobson will perform the role of Oscar the Grouch.

Spinney once told the "CBS Evening News" that he would love to play Big Bird for an even 50 years.

Spinney, who has been with the show since its debut in 1969, will have his last recording session this week. "He can learn with the kids", Spinney said in an interview with The New York Times published Wednesday.

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