After Almost 50 Years, Big Bird Has Retired from “Sesame Street”

Wells Graham, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

After nearly 50 years of playing Big Bird on the PBS produced program “Sesame Street”, Caroll Spinney is retiring from the show. Spinney has been playing Big Bird and his less popular character, Oscar the Grouch, since 1969, that’s forty-nine years!


Over the years, Caroll Spinney has acted in more than 4,400 episodes on “Sesame Street”. “Playing Big Bird was one of the most joyous things of my life,” Caroll Spinney said in an interview with The New York Times. “Sesame Street” has also brought joy to Spinney’s life in other ways, as he met his wife, Debra Spinney, on set of the show in 1972. 


However, playing Big Bird for almost five decades has taken a physical toll on the actor. One of the main reasons for Spinney’s retirement comes from the damage done to his body from the physical requirements of his role on the show, which in turn has worsened his arthritis. These requirements have become very difficult for him, and Spinney believes that all the years of wearing the 8’2’’ Big Bird suit has thrown off his balance.


“Big Bird had the biggest heart on ‘Sesame Street’, and that’s Caroll Spinney’s gift to us.” said Jeffrey Dunn, the current President and Chief Executive Officer of Sesame Workshop. According to Caroll Spinney, Big Bird has made him a better person, and will continue to. Whether it’s giving joy to others or recognizing the importance of happiness, Caroll Spinney has given almost 50 years of jollity to his audience.