The Man Behind Sesame Street's Big Bird Flies The Coop

After almost 50 years playing the most iconic characters on the world's most famous street, Caroll Spinney is retiring.

Most of us have fond childhood memories of a giant yellow bird and green monster who lives in a garbage can, teaching us lessons on the alphabet or numbers, or the importance of diversity and being kind.

Caroll Spinney is the man behind that big yellow bird and the grumpy green critter that children around the world grew up watching and hearing, usually through catchy songs and subtle humour that even our parents could enjoy too.

But the actor who portrayed the Oscar the grouch and Big Bird on Sesame Street has decided to abandon the nest, announcing his retirement at age 84.

Image: Getty

Arguably, Oscar and Big Bird were two of the most famous characters on the children's show, that began in 1969 and continues to play in over 120 countries and spawning 20 international versions.

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Spinney has been the man inside the Big Bird costume since the 1970's and although he stopped puppeteering in 2015 due to the physical challenge of working with the almost two and a half metre character, he has continued to provide the voices for him and Oscar.

Spinney in character in the early 1970's Image: New York Times

"How fortunate for me that I got to play the two best muppets?" Spinney who was hand picked by legendary Muppet creator Jim Henson, told the New York Times.

The show will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020 with episodes of Spinneys final recordings.

The two famous residents will be played by a new actor who is ready to take on the challenge of pulling the strings.

Image: Getty

And Spinney plans to spend his final show, right where his career began -- in Astoria, Queens on "Sesame Street".

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But he can't tell us how to get there...