Puppeteer Who Played Big Bird on 'Sesame Street' Retiring

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Caroll Spinney is interviewed in 2008 during a break from taping an episode of "Sesame Street" in New York. After nearly 50 years on the show Spinney is retiring. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on Sesame Street is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.

Caroll Spinney tells the New York Times that Thursday will be his last day on the program, which he joined from the start in 1969. In addition to Big Bird, the 84-year-old was also Oscar the Grouch.

“I always thought," Spinney says, "how fortunate for me that I got to play the two best Muppets?”

Spinney says the physical requirements of performing the characters had become difficult and he developed problems with his balance. He stopped doing the puppeteering for Big Bird in 2015 and now only provides the voices for him and Oscar.

Spinney was the subject of an acclaimed documentary, I Am Big Bird: The Carol Spinney Story, in 2014.


His apprentice Matt Vogel, who also plays Kermit the Frog, will succeed him in the Big Bird role.