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Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch puppeteer Caroll Spinney dies aged 85

Caroll Spinney, the original puppeteer for the beloved Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch has died aged 85.

The puppeteer died due to complications with dystonia at his home in Connecticut on Sunday.

The beloved puppeteer, Caroll Spinney, who brought so much joy to so many children, died peacefully at his home in Connecticut last Sunday.

Having worked on Sesame Street for the greater part of five decades, Spinney was involved with the universally adored show well into his 80’s. Joining Sesame Street from its inception in 1969, Spinney left a mark on millions of children’s lives.

Spinney’s conception of the way Big Bird should be portrayed helped to create the iconic character. Discussing his original idea for Big Bird, Spinney believed, “I think I should play him like he’s a child, a surrogate, he can be all the things that children are. He can learn with the kids.” This connection allowed Big Bird to flourish as one of the most popular characters on the show.

Sesame Workshop released a statement regarding his passing, “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”.

Most children spend a portion of their life glued to Sesame Street. Learning from the characters, gaining helpful young experiences from the lessons. To say that the loss of Caroll Spinney is tragic is an understatement. He was someone who gave everyone a little bit of himself and made them feel understood. In a review for his documentary, I Am Big Bird, the Guardian described him as, “Just the sort of kind-hearted sweetheart you’d expect, a man who’s spent a lifetime making children happy.”

The self-proclaimed “most unknown famous person in America” left a mark on many, and will continue to be remembered for a long time to come.