Sesame Street puppeteer and voice actor Caroll Spinney dead: Who was the Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch creator?

Caroll Spinney creator of Big Bird and OScar the Grouch has died.
Sesame Street icon Caroll Spinney made a positive impact on people of all generations. Pic credit: ©

Caroll Spinney, the Sesame Street puppeteer behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, has died. The voice actor was 85-years-old and left a legacy that will continue to impact children for generations.

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind the television show, broke the sad news today on the website. Caroll died on Saturday at his home in Connecticut. The puppeteer had been battling dystonia, a common movement disorder.

Although many people may not know his name, Caroll’s artistic genius affected anyone that ever-watched Sesame Street. His kind and loving view helped shape, as well as define the iconic children’s show.

Jim Henson, the famed creator of The Muppets, brought Caroll to Sesame Street in 1969. The two men remained great friends until Henson died in 1990.

Caroll was pivotal to the success of Sesame Street throughout the five decades he worked on the show. He retired last year. The voice actor brought Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to life, two characters that are synopsis with Sesame Street.

“Caroll Spinney’s contributions to Sesame Street are countless. He not only gave us Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, but he gave so much of himself as well. 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,” said Sesame Street co-founder, Joan Ganz Cooney, in a statement following the news of the puppeteer’s death.

Big Bird made several appearances other than on TV throughout Caroll’s career. With the talented performer inside, the yellow bird handed out Emmy Awards, danced with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, sang at Carnegie Hall and appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

Big Bird also performed with several superstars including, Johnny Cash and Michael Jackson.

In 2015, Caroll told The New York times he felt so fortunate to play both iconic characters. He also spilled that Oscar the Grouch was based on a “grouchy waiter at an old seafood restaurant in Manhattan.”

Oscar’s voice was taken from a New York cab driver the puppeteer encountered.

Caroll’s late wife Debra, who passed away in 2018, would make sure to let people know her husband was the opposite of a grouch. He was more like Big Bird, fun-loving, and had a generous heart.

The talented man loved to be able to use his famous characters to bring happiness to those who were having a difficult time.

There is no question puppeteer Caroll Spinney touched the lives of countless people during his life. People who knew him personally and those who didn’t even know he was behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, are greatly affected by his passing.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments