Caroll Spinney, the legendary “Sesame Street” puppeteer of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, died Sunday at 85, according to a Sesame Workshop news release.
He reportedly died in his Connecticut home after living with Dystonia, a movement disorder that causes a person’s muscles to contract uncontrollably, for many years.
His artistry and kind worldview helped shape “Sesame Street” for over 50 years since the show’s earliest days in 1969.
“His enormous talent and outsized heart were perfectly suited to playing the larger-than-life yellow bird who brought joy to generations of children and countless fans of all ages around the world, and his lovably cantankerous grouch gave us all permission to be cranky once in a while,” the release says.
Throughout his career, Spinney and Big Bird visited China with Bob Hope and danced with the Rockettes.
He was also celebrated with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a U.S. postage stamp and named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress.
“Sesame Street” co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney said of her longtime colleague and friend, “Caroll Spinney’s contributions to Sesame Street are countless. He not only gave us Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, he gave so much of himself as well. We at Sesame Workshop mourn his passing and feel an immense gratitude for all he has given to Sesame Street and to children around the world.”