BREAKING NEWS : Fort Wayne Police searching for missing 12-year-old boy Full Story

Big Bird actor retiring after nearly 50 years

Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who has portrayed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on "Sesame Street" since the program's 1969 premiere, announced that he is stepping down from the roles.

Posted: Oct 18, 2018 11:16 AM
Updated: Oct 18, 2018 11:37 AM

Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who has portrayed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on "Sesame Street" since the program's 1969 premiere, announced Wednesday that he is stepping down from the roles.

The news was made public via "Sesame Street's" official Twitter account.

"Big Bird brought me so many places, opened my mind and nurtured my soul," Spinney said in a statement. "And I plan to be an ambassador for Sesame Workshop for many years to come. After all, we're a family! But now it's time for two performers that I have worked with and respected -- and actually hand-picked for the guardianship of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch -- to take my alter-egos into their hands and continue to give them life."

For many "Sesame" fans, it is the end of an era for a man whose characters helped to define their childhoods.

Spinney's five decades portraying the beloved characters left him in the shadows, even as Big Bird and Oscar became famous worldwide.

Big Bird visited China with Bob Hope in 1979 and even showed off his massive dancing skills with with the Rockettes and prima ballerina Cynthia Gregory.

The beloved bird, who stands more than eight feet tall has been feted with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, celebrated with his likeness on a US postage stamp, and named a "Living Legend" in 2000 by the Library of Congress.

Spinney embraced his avian avatar, traveling the world, appearing in feature films and conducting symphonies in costume throughout the US, Australia and Canada.

He even met his wife of 45 years, Debra, on the "Sesame Street" set in 1973.

Sesame Workshop co-creator Joan Ganz Cooney hailed Spinney for his turn as the curmudgeonly puppet in a trash can, Oscar the Grouch.

"Caroll has been one of the leading lights of Sesame Street from the very beginning," she said. "His genius and his talent made Big Bird the most beloved yellow feathered friend across the globe. But the sheer artistry of Caroll is that he also brought Oscar to life and made him the most lovable Grouch in the world."

The roles brought Spinney, who is also an accomplished author and visual artist, acclaim.

He holds four honorary doctorates, a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award, six other Emmys, two Gold Records and two Grammy honors.

His life and career were documented in the widely-acclaimed 2014 film, "I Am Big Bird."

"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," Spinney said. "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 show announced that Matt Vogel, "Sesame Street's" puppet captain, will take over the role of Big Bird.

Oscar the Grouch will be played by Eric Jacobson, a puppeteer who also performs Grover, Bert, and Guy Smiley for "Sesame Street," as well as Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy for the Muppets.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 749097

Reported Deaths: 13745
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1030271775
Lake554211006
Allen41613691
St. Joseph36933564
Hamilton36505416
Elkhart29347459
Tippecanoe22849225
Vanderburgh22540400
Porter19313325
Johnson18386387
Hendricks17583317
Clark13190193
Madison13111344
Vigo12602253
LaPorte12385221
Monroe12152175
Delaware10947197
Howard10250225
Kosciusko9609119
Hancock8541144
Bartholomew8158157
Warrick7854156
Floyd7763180
Grant7227179
Wayne7154201
Boone6911103
Morgan6735141
Dubois6211118
Marshall6205116
Cass5989108
Henry5893108
Dearborn588878
Noble579786
Jackson508374
Shelby500697
Lawrence4727121
Gibson444093
Harrison440473
Clinton439855
DeKalb438585
Montgomery433890
Whitley405642
Huntington402181
Steuben398659
Miami392568
Jasper386254
Knox375690
Putnam371860
Wabash360583
Ripley346470
Adams344955
Jefferson335685
White329753
Daviess3028100
Wells294881
Decatur289992
Greene286385
Fayette284664
Posey273735
LaGrange272872
Scott269855
Clay265448
Randolph244683
Washington244534
Jennings235149
Spencer234131
Starke227558
Fountain218347
Sullivan213943
Owen210858
Fulton201542
Jay200832
Carroll193420
Orange188055
Perry186937
Rush175626
Vermillion173544
Franklin170135
Tipton165746
Parke148916
Pike137934
Blackford136032
Pulaski120047
Newton112636
Brown103943
Crawford102316
Benton100814
Martin91415
Warren83515
Switzerland8098
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0421

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1107047

Reported Deaths: 20091
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1284921459
Cuyahoga1155972204
Hamilton812991245
Montgomery524821040
Summit48339999
Lucas43303817
Butler38901603
Stark33286929
Lorain25641502
Warren24557303
Mahoning22330601
Lake21135385
Clermont20097252
Delaware18817135
Licking16645222
Fairfield16561204
Trumbull16522479
Medina15593270
Greene15252246
Clark14219306
Wood13280197
Portage13226214
Allen11905239
Richland11598211
Miami10835223
Wayne9116222
Columbiana9020230
Muskingum8889135
Pickaway8649122
Marion8635138
Tuscarawas8633247
Erie8052164
Ashtabula7137179
Hancock6996131
Ross6933161
Geauga6832150
Scioto6528104
Belmont6149174
Union583849
Lawrence5722102
Jefferson5669158
Huron5539122
Sandusky5436125
Darke5415129
Seneca5343126
Washington5308109
Athens523360
Auglaize501587
Mercer487385
Shelby476195
Knox4567112
Madison443765
Ashland435197
Putnam4333103
Fulton431871
Defiance431798
Crawford4033110
Brown401961
Logan387277
Preble3847103
Clinton378466
Ottawa372681
Highland359265
Williams347578
Champaign343658
Guernsey324153
Jackson317354
Perry297150
Morrow291340
Fayette285450
Hardin274865
Henry273267
Holmes2698101
Coshocton268359
Van Wert247264
Adams242856
Pike242735
Gallia240450
Wyandot234556
Hocking220162
Carroll196748
Paulding176342
Meigs148240
Monroe136144
Noble135839
Harrison113638
Morgan109624
Vinton85417
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 65°
Angola
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 61°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 65°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 65°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 62°
Tuesday is another mostly sunny and comfortable day with a small chance of a stray afternoon shower or sprinkle.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events