Master puppeteer Caroll Spinney is 84 years old and has spent a half-century giving life to a giant citrus-colored bird-brained mess (not to be confused with the citrus-colored bird-brained mess in the White House right now) and a trash-smelling lump of grouchiness (not to be confused with the trash-smelling lump of grouchiness writing this post). And now after a really long run, he has decided to retire from fisting a bitch. Well, retire from fisting a bitch for a check anyway.
Caroll Spinney has been the man inside of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since Sesame Street’s premiere in 1969. The truth is, Caroll stopped working the bodies of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch three years ago, because something called “the olds” just wouldn’t let his arms be great. But he continued to voice both characters. That will stop this week. His final episodes will air on HBO next year and on PBS in 2020. Sesame Street Workshop announced the news today, saying that Matt Vogel, who took over as the body operator of Big Bird in 2015, will completely take over as Big Bird, and Eric Jacobsen will take over as Oscar the Grouch. Caroll, who has six Emmys and was the star of a documentary about being Big Bird, said these words about saying goodbye to Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.
“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. Even as I step down from my roles, I feel I will always be Big Bird. And even Oscar, once in a while! They have given me great joy, led me to my true calling – and my wonderful wife! – and created a lifetime of memories that I will cherish forever.”
The wonderful wife he’s talking about is Debra Spinney whom he met on the set of Sesame Street in 1973.
It’s nice to hear about a Sesame Street puppeteer leaving the show on a happy note, and not a dark-sided one. Although, things could get a little dark for Debra Spinney. By that I mean, if she ever wakes up in the middle of the night and finds Caroll not in bed, she’ll have to go outside to the trash can and shine a flashlight on him as he’s inside, eating garbage, while crying about how he misses Oscar. Or worse, Caroll will make her eat at Little Ceasars because he’ll miss eating trash as Oscar.