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Sesame Street's original Big Bird puppeteer Caroll Spinney to leave after nearly 50 years

He also voiced Oscar the Grouch on the children's show

Jack Shepherd
Wednesday 17 October 2018 17:51 BST
Sesame Street song 'I Love Trash' by Groucho

Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer behind the original Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street, is retiring from the long-running children’s programme.

The New York Times reports that the 84-year-old plans on recording some voices for his alter-egos this Thursday (18 October) before passing on the roles to new performers.

Spinney has has voiced the role of Oscar for almost 50 years, since the series’ conception in 1969, a spokesperson for the show estimating that he has appeared in over 4,400 episodes.

“I always thought, ‘How fortunate for me that I got to play the two best Muppets?’” he told the publication. “Playing Big Bird is one of the most joyous things of my life.”

The actor only decided recently to retire from voicing the roles, although had stopped performing as Big Bird in 2015 after the physical requirements of playing the character became too difficult. Next year’s 50th anniversary episode of Sesame Street – which will feature his final voice recordings for the show — seemed like an appropriate time to leave the series behind.

Jeffrey Dunn, the president and chief executive of Sesame Workshop, said: “Big Bird has always had the biggest heart on Sesame Street, and that’s Caroll’s gift to us.

“I think it’s fair to say that Caroll’s view of the world and how we should treat each other has shaped and defined our organisation.”

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