The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on Sesame Street is retiring after almost 50 years on the show.
Spinney, 84, will retire after Thursday's taping of "Sesame Street" and the roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch will be "passed on to new performers", The New York Times reported.
Caroll Spinney has been with Sesame Street since the beginning. He's since appeared in "thousands of the more than 4,400 episodes", according to a spokesperson from Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind the television show.
For many "Sesame" fans, it is the end of an era for a man whose characters helped to define their childhoods.
While Big Bird was initially conceived as a "a amusing, dumb country yokel", Spinney encouraged producers to allow him to play the character as if "he's a child, a surrogate".
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Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch became fixtures of American pop culture, launching Spinney's career and giving him the chance to bring the characters to audiences around the world.
He even met his wife of 45 years, Debra, on the "Sesame Street" set in 1973.
Sesame Workshop co-creator Joan Ganz Cooney hailed Spinney for his turn as the curmudgeonly puppet in a trash can, Oscar the Grouch.
He holds four honorary doctorates, a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award, six other Emmys, two Gold Records and two Grammy honors.
Spinney, at left, took the spotlight in the 2014 documentary I Am Big Bird. "Big Bird helped me find my goal", Spinney said. He's been with the PBS-turned-HBO series since its first episode, on November 10, 1969, but after almost 50 years on the job, Spinney is retiring, with his roles being "passed on to new performers" (understudy Matt Vogel has been in the eight-foot two-inch tall bird suit since 2016, but Spinney still provided the voice). Big Bird helped me find my goal", Spinney said in a statement "Even as I step down from my roles, I feel I will always be Big Bird. Vogel, who's also taken over performing Kermit the Frog and Count von Count in recent years, called replacing Spinney "daunting and important".
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