The man who has played Sesame Street's Big Bird for nearly 50 years is retiring 3 years ago

The man who has played Sesame Street's Big Bird for nearly 50 years is retiring

Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer behind Sesame Street's Big Bird, has announced he is retiring form the role.

The 84-year-old has played the iconic Sesame Street character for almost 50 years.

On Wednesday, he announced that he was going to be stepping back from the role at the end of this week.


In a statement released by Sesame Workshop, he said:

“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!

Oscar the Grouch, Caroll Spinney, and Jim Henson, 1970s (Photographer: Bill Pierce)

"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."


Spinney, who also played Oscar the Grouch, joined the iconic children's television show in 1969.

Caroll Spinney performing Oscar the Grouch while in his Big Bird legs (Courtesy of Sesame Workshop)

He also met his wife of 45 years, Debra, during his time on the show - when she was working for Children's Television Workshop in 1973.

Going forward, the role of Big Bird will be performed by Matt Vogel, Sesame Street’s Puppet Captain. He also performs Count von Count for Sesame Street and Kermit the Frog for the Disney Muppets™.

Caroll Spinney and Big Bird, early 1970s (Photographer: Robert Fuhring)

Oscar the Grouch will be performed by Eric Jacobson, an Emmy-nominated puppeteer who also performs Grover, Bert, and Guy Smiley for Sesame Street, as well as Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy for the Disney Muppets™.