BOSTON (CBS) — The world has lost a legend whose performances have delighted and inspired people young and old for decades. Carroll Spinney, the puppeteer and artist who brought beloved Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to life, died this weekend.
Big Bird debuted on Sesame Street in 1969 with Spinney creating the voice, the movements and the gentle personality filled with childlike wonder.
“They say, what do you do? I say, well you’ve heard of Sesame Street. I’m Big Bird,” Spinney explained in an interview some years ago.
But Big Bird wasn’t his only creation. Oscar the Grouch soon followed, destined to become a grumpy but loveable icon.
“Carroll created characters who stay with you for your whole life,” said Roxanna Myhrum, the artistic director at the Puppet Showplace Theater in Brookline, a theater Spinney supported and advised for years.
Myhrum’s connection to the master puppeteer goes back to her grandfather who was a Sesame Street director. Spinney has always been an inspiration to her. “Carroll’s performances touched so many people,” she said.
Spinney was born in Waltham in 1933 and started puppeteering as a child. But it was meeting Muppet creator Jim Henson that lead to his role as Big Bird.
Spinney called himself the most unknown, famous person in America.
“I think we’re all called upon to bring the spirit of Big Bird into the world on his behalf and in his memory,” Myhrum said.