Legendary puppeteer Caroll Spinney passed away on Dec. 8 after a long battle with Dystonia. Best known as the creative force behind the iconic Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, Spinney was 85.

The talented puppeteer joined Sesame Street in 1969, creating beloved characters that would impact children and adults for decades. Along with five Daytime Emmy awards and a Grammy award nomination, Spinney also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2006.

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Caroll Spinney, the legendary puppeteer behind beloved Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, died today, December 8th 2019, at age 85 at his home in Connecticut, after living with Dystonia for some time. Since 1969, Caroll’s kind and loving view of the world helped shape and define Sesame Street. His enormous talent and outsized heart were perfectly suited to playing the larger-than-life yellow bird who brought joy to countless fans of all ages around the world, and his lovably cantankerous grouch gave us all permission to be cranky once in a while. In these characters, Caroll Spinney gave something truly special to the world. With deepest admiration, Sesame Workshop is proud to carry his legacy – and his beloved characters – into the future. Our hearts go out to his beloved wife, Debra, and all of his children and grandchildren. We will miss him dearly.

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Named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, Spinney and his character creations visited China with Bob Hope, danced with the Rockettes, got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and so much more.

Sesame Street co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney said, in a press release, “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.” Cooney continued, “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.”

—Erica Loop

Featured photo: Sesame Street via YouTube



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