WOODSTOCK, Conn. (CBS/AP) — 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.

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

carroll spinney Mass. Native Caroll Spinney, Sesame Streets Big Bird & Oscar, Is Retiring

Caroll Spinney played Oscar and Big Bird on Sesame Street (Photos by Brad Barket and Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

Spinney was a puppeteer on Boston’s “Bozo’s Big Top” in the 1960s before playing his iconic roles on “Sesame Street.”

But 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.

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

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

 

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