Puppeteer who played Big Bird on ‘Sesame Street’ retiring

Caroll Spinney attends the 'I Am Big Bird' Screening at 2014 Doc NYC

Caroll Spinney attends the 'I Am Big Bird' Screening at 2014 Doc NYC

Puppeteer Caroll Spinney, who has played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since the show's premiere in 1969, announced Wednesday that he is stepping down from both iconic roles.

"He stopped doing the puppeteering for Big Bird in 2015 and has since been providing only the voices for him and Oscar", The New York Times reported. Spinney has worked alongside and mentored Vogel and Jacobson for more than 20 years, Sesame Workshop said. After all, we're a family! He also served in the United States Air Force, but he said that Sesame Street's positive message to its young audience made him feel like he was really fulfilling a goal in life. It was Spinney, victor of a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award, who made the decision to play Big Bird as "a child, a surrogate", rather than "a amusing, dumb country yokel".

"I always thought, 'How fortunate for me that I got to play the two best Muppets?' Playing Big Bird is one of the most joyous things of my life", he told the Times. And even Oscar, once in a while! "They have given me great joy, led me to my true calling and created a lifetime of memories that I will cherish forever".

Big Bird is flying the coop.

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Spinney, 84, will finish his work on the show this week, after which new actors will assume the roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, another of his characters, The New York Times reported.

So who's taking Spinney's place?

Outside of Sesame Street, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch have also appeared in multiple Muppet movies, including The Muppet Movie and The Muppets Take Manhattan, the feature-length-film Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird is a must-watch for children.

Spinney is one of the last surviving Sesame Street staffers who've been with the show since its beginnings. Vogel, who's also taken over performing Kermit the Frog and Count von Count in recent years, called replacing Spinney "daunting and important". "And the children bought it".

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