×

Spinney cycle

A look at the muppeteer who plays Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch

Name: Caroll Spinney

Age: 72

Occupation: Muppeteer who plays Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on PBS’ “Sesame Street”

Notable: Spinney is one of three Muppeteers who worked the skein’s first episode, which aired Nov. 10, 1969, and are still with the show today. (The other two are Jerry Nelson and Frank Oz.)

Kudos: Spinney has won four Emmy Awards, the last one coming after the 1982-83 season. He also has two Grammys. In 2000, the Library of Congress declared Spinney, as Big Bird, a “living legend.”

For the ages: Big Bird has been 6 years old almost since his inception, and Oscar is stuck at 43. “I remember when Oscar was older than me,” Spinney says. “In 1978, a new writer on the show did a flashback, and Big Bird was pushing a baby Oscar in a baby carriage. I said, ‘I’m sorry but you can’t ruin the history because Big Bird is a kid and Oscar doesn’t act like a child in any way. He’s 43, OK?’ That made him older than me at the time, and now I wish I was as young as Oscar — still 43. I don’t want him to become a cantankerous old coot, just a cantankerous grouch.”

Little-known fact: Spinney was approached by NASA to fly on the space shuttle. “They wanted the children of America to be more interested in NASA,” he says. “They thought Big Bird could go up in it and we would do an actual production. I said yes … but then they found out there was absolutely no place to store (the) Big Bird (costume), so I couldn’t go. They selected Christa McAuliffe to go instead, and now you know the rest of the story. What a tragedy.”

More TV

  • How Cooking-Travel Shows Are Changing TV

    How Cooking-Travel Shows Are Changing TV

    Toyo hunches over his street food stove, cooking tuna with a blow torch, stopping to light his cigarette with it and produce a cheeky grin. The Japanese chef, who owns a roadside stand in the city of Osaka, is one of many highlighted in the Netflix series “Street Food.” Over the course of 30 minutes, [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Leaders Approve Proposal for New Film-TV Contract

    The SAG-AFTRA national board has approved proposals for a successor deal to its master contract covering feature film and primetime television — a key step in the upcoming negotiations cycle with companies. The board approved the package Saturday with the performers union declining to reveal any specifics — its usual policy. The board established the wages [...]

  • Shannen Doherty'Jennie Garth: A Little Bit

    Shannen Doherty Joins 'Riverdale' Season 4 in Luke Perry Tribute

    “Riverdale” is planning to make a special tribute to Luke Perry. The show’s executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa announced at Comic-Con that Shannen Doherty, Perry’s longtime friend and “Beverly Hills 90210” co-star, will guest star in the season 4 premiere. The tribute episode will “reflect Perry’s enduring legacy and the indelible imprint his character” Fred Andrews [...]

  • Supernatural CW

    'Supernatural' Team Gets Emotional Final Season Sendoff at Comic-Con

    The cast and creative team of “Supernatural” bid a fond farewell to the attendees of San Diego Comic-Con on Sunday. At the show’s final panel in the gargantuan Hall H, the team thanked the fans for all of their support over the years as the series prepares to enter its final season. “I’m trying not [...]

  • Alicia Rodis photographed by Alicia Rodis

    SAG-AFTRA Moves to Standardize Guidelines for Intimacy Coordinators

    SAG-AFTRA is moving to standardize guidelines for intimacy coordinators as part of an effort to establish policies for union members when their work involves nudity and simulated sex. “Our goal is to normalize and promote the use of intimacy coordinators within our industry,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “Intimacy coordinators provide an important safety net for [...]

  • SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases

    SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases 'The Magicians' Season 5 Clip (Watch)

    In today’s SDCC TV news roundup, Syfy shares a clip from “The Magicians” Season 5, and Amazon sets the Season 4 premiere of “The Expanse.” CASTING Julie Gonzalo and Staz Nair have joined the cast of “Supergirl” for its upcoming fifth season. Gonzalo will portray iconic DC character Andrea Rojas aka Acrata, a polished businesswoman [...]

  • Doom Patrol -- Ep. 101 --

    'Doom Patrol' Renewed, Season 2 to Stream on DC Universe and HBO Max

    “Doom Patrol” has been renewed for a second season and will soon be available outside of DC Universe. At San Diego Comic-Con, series executive producer Jeremy Carver and star Diane Guerrero announced not only that the show will be back for another season but also that it will be available on HBO Max, the upcoming [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content