Since Sesame Street’s very first episode way back on November 10, 1969, Carol Spinney has been the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, providing both the voice and the puppetry behind two of the show’s most iconic creations. But all good things must come to an end and the 84-year-old (!) legend is hanging it up after nearly 50 years on the job.
“I always thought, How fortunate for me that I got to play the two best Muppets?” Spinney told the New York Times. “Playing Big Bird is one of the most joyous things of my life.”
Everything’s a-ok though. Matt Vogel has been Spinney’s understudy and actually started wearing the Big Bird suit back in 2016 when Spinney developed some balance issues (the suit is over eight feet tall). Vogel will be taking over voice duties on Oscar and Big Bird, in addition to his current gigs on Kermit the Frog and Count von Count.
“The more I do the character, the more that I try to preserve what I think Caroll’s intentions were,” he told the Times. “Inevitably, part of our own personality starts to creep into those characters. But that’s the way they live on.”