Puppeteer who played Big Bird on ‘Sesame Street’ retiring

  • FILE- In this April 10, 2008 file photo, Big Bird reads to Connor Scott and Tiffany Jiao during a taping of Sesame Street in New York. 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, Oct. 18, 2018, 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. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

WOODSTOCK, Conn. — The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on “Sesame Street” is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.

Caroll Spinney announced in a statement Wednesday that he’s handing over Big Bird and his other character, Oscar the Grouch, to younger performers. The 84-year-old joined “Sesame Street” at its inception in 1969.

Spinney says he didn’t feel like his work was important until Big Bird helped him find his purpose.

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. Vogel also plays Kermit the Frog.

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