Caroll Spinney the man who brought Big Bird and Oscar The Grouch to life passed away he was 85.
Time toTime Travel a bit first, let’s go back to Waltham Massachusetts 1933, shortly after the ‘Great Depression.’ Spinney was born to a mom that was super supportive of her son. When Caroll got his first puppet a monkey at the age of 8, his mother then built him a puppet theater and the rest is history.
After high school Spinney spent four years in the U.S. Air Force. He then returned home to Massachusetts and got his foot in the door in the world of television.
Spinney teamed up with Judy Valentine a fellow puppeteer together they created their own daily series. He then worked on a version of the clown show “Bozo’s Big Top” in Boston.
In 1960 Caroll married Janice Spinney, their marriage lasted 11 years and together they had three children. The kid’s names were Jessica, Melissa, and Benjamin. In 1979 he married his second wife Debra and the two were attached at the hip for the rest of his life.
Spinney’s Big Break
Caroll was in Utah for a big puppet festival, he took to the stage and bombed his performance. In the audience was ‘The Muppet Master’ Jim Henson. Jim, went backstage after the show and told Caroll “I liked what you were trying to do.”
Spinney joined forces with Hanson and the rest of the crew at “Sesame Street.” Big ups to Sesame Street they just celebrated their 50 year anniversary last week.
Spinney went on to play two roles on Sesame Street one was Oscar The Grouch and the other was an ‘8ft 2in’ big yellow bird know to fans around the globe as Big Bird.
It was 1969 and Spinney was 36 when he began voicing and operating Big Bird and Oscar. He performed them into his 80’s.
“Before I came to ‘Sesame Street,” I didn’t feel like what I was doing was very important. Big Bird helped me find my purpose.”
As Big Bird, Spinney got to travel the world. He went to China with iconic entertainer Bob Hope, he met and danced with ‘The Rockettes’, he even earned himself a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and he was recognized by the Library of Congress as a Living Legend.
The Sesame Workshop had this to say about Spinney’s Legacy:
“Caroll was an artistic genius whose kind and loving view of the world helped shape and define Sesame Street from it’s earliest days in 1969 through five decades, and his legacy here at Sesame Workshop and in the cultural firmament will be unending. His enormous talent and outsized heart were perfectly suited to playing the larger-than-life yellow bird who brought joy to generations of children and countless fans of all ages around the world, and his lovably cantankerous grouch gave us all permission to be cranky once in a while.”
Spinney will be missed by family, friends, and fans world wide. Our thoughts here at IMU Media go out to all of Caroll’s loved ones in their time of need.
A Tribute To Caroll Spinney
(Cover image courtesy of Radar Online, videos courtesy of YouTube, CBS and Sesame Street, source ABC 7)