Caroll Spinney, ‘Sesame Street’s Big Bird For 50 Years, Is Retiring

Caroll Spinney is retiring as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch after nearly 50 years. 

"But now it's time for two performers that I have worked with and respected - and actually hand-picked for the guardianship of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch - to take my alter-egos into their hands and continue to give them life".

While Big Bird was initially conceived as a "a amusing, dumb country yokel", Spinney encouraged producers to allow him to play the character as if "he's a child, a surrogate".

"Caroll has been one of the leading lights of Sesame Street from the very beginning", said Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder of the nonprofit organization Sesame Workshop.

He was also the subject of the critically acclaimed 2014 documentary "I Am Big Bird" about his life as a master puppeteer.

Big Bird reads to Connor Scott and Tiffany Jiao during a taping of Sesame Street in New York, April 10, 2008.

After 50 years of starring as the iconic and lovable Big Bird, Caroll Spinney is hanging up his yellow suit and retiring from "Sesame Street".

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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 stopped puppeteering Big Bird three years ago and relegated himself to just the voice of the "Sesame Street" legend. And even Oscar, once in a while!

Now, at the age of 84, Spinney told the New York Times that he is retiring from "Sesame Street" after almost half a century playing some of the show's most iconic characters.

So who's taking Spinney's place?

Following his departure, Spinney was one of the last surviving original "Sesame Street" staffers.

Still, "I'll be 100 years old, doing Muppet stuff", says Spinney, who plans to become a Sesame Workshop ambassador. The good news is that he has already picked his successors, as Big Bird will be performed by Matt Vogel who also performs Count von Count and Oscar the Grouch will be performed by Eric Jacobson, who also performs Grover and Bert. He also plays Kermit the Frog.

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