The original 'Big Bird' puppeteer is leaving Sesame Street

He was recruited by Jim Henson himself in 1969.

  • His last performance will be this coming Thursday, Oct. 19
  • A feature movie about him was made in 2014
  • Other actors will take over. Well, at least, they'll try ...

Carroll Spinney is now 84 years old, and he began to be the voices of these characters at age 34, way back in 1969, after being recruited by Jim Henson himself. Here's an image of that time:
(Photo by Children's Television Workshop/Courtesy of Getty Images)

He stopped being a puppeteer for both Big Bird and Oscar a few years ago, but has continued to do the voices. After this coming Thursday, that will end, too.

The show's producers have no idea how many episodes of Sesame Street he's been in, but they peg it in the thousands. "Playing Big Bird is one of the most joyous things of my life."

Big Bird & Oscar the Grouch of Sesame Street's Caroll Spinney speaks onstage at the Enduring Stories: A (Big) Bird's Eye View panel presented by DigitasLB during Advertising Week 2015 AWXII at the Getty Images Stage at B.B. King Blues Club and Grill on September 28, 2015 in New York City.

(Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images for AWXII)

The character of Big Bird started out as a "funny, dumb country yokel." But he disagreed with that approach.

"I said, 'I think I should play him like he's a child, a surrogate,'" he recalled. "He can be all the things that children are. He can learn with the kids." That was a brilliant move.

Since, Spinney's Big Bird character has been referred to as the "tender, nurturing soul of the show."

in 2014, a feature movie about Spinney and the characters he played on Sesame Street was made. Here's the trailer for the full movie:

I Am Big Bird Official Trailer

(I'm not crying, YOU'RE crying.)

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