Caroll Spinney, the legendary puppeteer who brought the characters of beloved “Sesame Street” characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to life, died Sunday at his home in Woodstock, Connecticut, The New York Times reported. He was 85.
The cause of death was not immediately disclosed but was announced by the Sesame Workshop, the newspaper reported.
Sesame Workshop said Spinney suffered from dystonia, a neurological disorder affecting movement, The Washington Post reported.
Spinney portrayed the sweet-natured, canary-yellow giant bird and the equally grumpy, furry-green complainer in the trash can outside 123 Sesame Street. Until his retirement in October 2018, Spinney played the roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since “Sesame Street” debuted in 1969.
“Big Bird brought me so many places, opened my mind and nurtured my soul,” Spinney said in a statement when he retired.
Spinney won five Daytime Emmy Awards for his contributions to “Sesame Street," according to The Hollywood Reporter. He also received a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 2006, the website reported.
Spinney also performed his characters in live concerts worldwide and at the White House, the Times reported. He was featured in films, documentaries and record albums.
Spinney said Jim Henson, the Muppets creator who died in 1990, originally conceived Big Bird as a “funny, dumb country yokel,” the Post reported. However, Spinney convinced Henson and the show’s producers to portray the 8-foot, 2-inch yellow character as a curious 6-year-old.
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