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Caroll Spinney, Voice of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch is Retiring From “Sesame Street”

Caroll Spinney, puppeteer and voice of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on “Sesame Street”, announced his retirement from the roles after almost 50 years. After almost 50 years, Spinney has decided that it is the right time to leave the show.

Sesame Workshop released a statement announcing Spinney’s departure from the show. They said that Spinney is “stepping down from the roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.” Both of these being characters that he has performed on “Sesame Street” since 1969 when the show first premiered.

When it comes to reasons for his departure, that can be easily summed up by Debra Spinney, Caroll Spinney’s spouse. She said to the New York Times, “It’s just the fates that bring things to a head sometimes.” Spinney said to the New York Times that the physical requirements of performing the roles had become too difficult for him.

Spinney ceased the actual puppeteering of Big Bird in 2015 and was only providing the voices of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch as he finished out his career. His final voice recordings for the characters will be used in the 50th anniversary of “Sesame Street”, a very fitting time for a graceful exit from the show.

“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,” said Spinney.

Spinney felt that he was not doing anything very important before coming to the show.

“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,” said Spinney.

Spinney will pass the roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on to Matt Vogel and Eric Jacobson, respectively. Matt Vogel is the Puppet Captain of “Sesame Street”, performs Count von Count and Kermit the Frog, and has been Spinney’s apprentice since 1996.

Eric Jacobson is an Emmy Award nominated puppeteer who performs various characters on “Sesame Street” and is the voice of Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy for Disney’s ‘The Muppets’.

In the press release announcing Spinney’s departure, Jeffrey D. Dunn, Sesame Workshop’s President and CEO, shared his thoughts.

“Throughout his unparalleled career, Caroll Spinney gave something truly special to the world.” Dunn goes on to say “Sesame Workshop is proud to carry his legacy – and his beloved characters – into the future.”

According to the New York Times, Spinney’s final episodes of ‘Sesame Street’ will air in 2019 on HBO and in 2020 on PBS.

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