Caroll Spinney may not be a name that you’re familiar with, and there’s a chance you may have never seen his face. But you’ve undoubtedly seen his work, and he might have even shaped your childhood. Spinney is the puppeteer behind Sesame Street character Big Bird, as well as the grumpy Oscar the Grouch. After 50 years with the show, hired personally by Jim Henson himself, Spinney retired last fall, and this year he said his final farewell, having passed away at 85 years old.
Sesame Workshop made the announcement of Caroll Spinney dead after living with Dystonia for some time. He died at his home in Connecticut, and his longtime television home released this statement in his honor:
“Caroll was an artistic genius whose kind and loving view of the world helped shape and define Sesame Street from its earliest days in 1969 through five decades, and his legacy here at Sesame Workshop and in the cultural firmament will be unending. His enormous talent and outsized heart were perfectly suited to playing the larger-than-life yellow bird who brought joy to generations of children and countless fans of all ages around the world, and his lovably cantankerous grouch gave us all permission to be cranky once in a while.
Welcomed to Sesame Street by Jim Henson, Caroll thrived under a mentorship that led to a decades-long great friendship. Caroll’s unparalleled career saw Big Bird visit China with Bob Hope, dance with the Rockettes, be celebrated with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a U.S. postage stamp, and named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress. A favorite highlight for Caroll was conducting symphony orchestras and performing with them across the United States, Australia, and China, allowing him to personally connect with families everywhere through the music of Sesame Street. Caroll Spinney gave something truly special to the world. With deepest admiration, Sesame Workshop is proud to carry his memory – and his beloved characters – into the future. Our hearts go out to Caroll’s beloved wife, Debra, and all of his children and grandchildren.”
When retiring from Sesame Street last year, Spinney fondly remembered the half century he spent at Sesame Workship, telling The New York Times, “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.”
If you’d like to know more about the life and career of Caroll Spinney, check out the documentary I Am Big Bird.
After recently wrapping filming on The Suicide Squad, James Gunn’s been taking self-isolation seriously, it seems. As has been the case for many people, social media’s been a key outlet for him during these long days and nights. Between recommending movies to stream and bringing us his dancing Baby Groot moves again, Gunn’s helping to keep spirits alive. However, things have taken an extra strange turn after Gunn randomly hopped into a debate over a hypothetical throwdown. It’s getting ugly.
This ruckus began when Twitter user KaciLouWho11 not-to-innocently began a poll that asked people to pick who would win a street fight: the characters of Muppets or Sesame Street? Oh boy.
Who wins in a street fight?
— Kaci Marie @kacilouwho11 March 19, 2020
The replies began pouring in for this tweet, and people took the matter personally. Honestly, my natural instinct would be to root for the Sesame Street gang because Oscar the Grouch has a built-in weapon trash can lid, man on his side. Also, The Count’s freaking undead and is pretty darn clever, relatively speaking, so he’d be a formidable foe and team asset. Also, both Big Bird and Snuffleupagus have sheer size on their side. Yes, I do realize the Muppets crowd lends itself to more gleefully-executed chaos, but I think the street smarts of the other side would lead to ultimate domination. And the Guardians of the Galaxy director agrees.
“WTF. Too many people are voting muppets and forgetting what a natural born killer Snuffleupagus is,” Gunn tweeted. “Yes I KNOW Animal and Piggy are hardcore. But [are they] Oscar and Cookie tough? No. Absolutely not. Don’t fuck this up Twitter.”
WTF. Too many people are voting muppets and forgetting what a natural born killer Snuffleupagus is. Yes I KNOW Animal and Piggy are hardcore. But Oscar and Cookie tough? No. Absolutely not. Don’t fuck this up Twitter. Vote the Street. ???? https://t.co/ezGmkrHztx