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Caroll Spinney Season 45

CAROLL SPINNEY poses with OSCAR THE GROUCH & BIG BIRD

CAROLL EDWIN SPINNEY (born December 26th, 1933) has performed both OSCAR THE GROUCH & BIG BIRD on SESAME STREET for 46 years. In a 2008 Washington Times article, SPINNEY said that even though performing BIG BIRD is physically demanding work, the 82-year-old has no intention of stopping, saying, "I can't imagine willingly walking away from BIG BIRD & OSCAR."[1] He has described his experience as BIG BIRD as "a lot like growing up to be Mickey Mouse...only taller!"[2]

SPINNEY was born in Waltham, MA & was an accomplished artist before he started working as a live performer. He attended The Art Institute of Boston's College of Art & Design. While in the military, he created a comic strip under the name ED SPINNEY. In the early 1960s he created an animated cartoon series called Crazy Crayon under the same name.

In 1955, SPINNEY headed to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he created the show Rascal Rabbit.[3] He returned to Boston in 1958, appearing in the summer series The Judy & Goggle Show as a puppeteer opposite Judy Valentine, performing Goggle the bird.

When Judy & Goggle was moved out of its slot for station WHDH-TV's returning programming, both SPINNEY & Valentine were offered a berth on the Boston broadcast of Bozo's Big Top in 1959. SPINNEY played a variety of hand-puppet creations, usually in 1-off skits, & also played Bozo's grandmother Grandma Nellie (in full clown-make-up) & several recurring costumed characters. These included Flip-Flop the Rag Doll, Kookie Kangaroo (a failed boxer), & Mr. Lion, "the fastest draw alive." The latter role combined SPINNEY's performing & cartoonist skills, creating quick sketches for the kids.

In the 1960s, SPINNEY created 2 cat puppets, Picklepuss & Pop, who he performed in various venues, including stage shows & some Bozo broadcasts. Picklepuss & Pop would later go on to perform with the Muppets just once, in the 1988 Jim Henson Play -Along video Wow, You're a Cartoonist!. In 1969, SPINNEY met Jim HENSON at the Puppeteers' of America Festival in Salt Lake City, following an ambitious experimental presentation (hosted by Picklepuss), which combined different live-puppetry techniques with film projections. The show went awry due to various technical issues & other problems, but afterwards, HENSON told him that he "liked what you were trying to do." HENSON then asked Spinney if he wanted to work with him on a new children's show being developed.[4] CAROLL went on to star as the man behind both OSCAR THE GROUCH & BIG BIRD.

As BIG BIRD, SPINNEY traveled the world -- in the TV specials BIG BIRD in China & BIG BIRD in Japan, & in special SESAME STREET episodes that took him to New Mexico & Hawaii. He has also starred in a feature film, Follow That BIRD.

SPINNEY has guest starred as his characters on many other programs, including The Flip Wilson Show, Scrubs, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, 1 vs 100, The Muppet Show, & over 141 episodes of Hollywood Squares.

SPINNEY wrote an autobiography in 2003 titled The WISDOM of BIG BIRD (& the Dark GENIUS of OSCAR THE GROUCH): Lessons from a Life in FEATHERS. CAROLL SPINNEY also wrote & illustrated How to be a GROUCH, a 1976 picture book that explains the world from OSCAR's point of view. Spinney also drew the picture of Mr. Hooper that BIG BIRD drew after Mr. Hooper died, & designed 1 of his characters, BRUNO THE TRASHMAN, the character who always carried OSCAR in his TRASH CAN when OSCAR had to be carried someplace. SPINNEY also performs the voice of GRANNY BIRD, BIG BIRD's grandmother & favorite relative. The puppet used for GRANNY BIRD is actually a spare BIG BIRD puppet, & SPINNEY provides her voice. Also, as GRANNY BIRD's appearances are most often alongside BIG BIRD, (who is also, as she stated, her "favorite grandson"), her voice is usually pre-recorded, letting SPINNEY perform BIG BIRD. His artwork was featured in a 2010/2011 exhibit at ToonSeum. A new documentary about Spinney titled I Am BIG BIRD: The CAROLL SPINNEY Story premiered in Spring 2013.

SPINNEY currently resides in Woodstock, Connecticut, w/ his wife, Debra. The couple has 3 children.

Muppeteer CreditsEdit

Awards & HonorsEdit

Dates UNknown

1994

2000

  • As Big Bird, SPINNEY was awarded the Library of Congress Living Legend Award in April 2000. According to the Library of Congress website, "the award is selected by the Library's curators & subject specialists to honor artists, writers, activists, filmmakers, physicians, entertainers, sports figures & public servants who have made significant contributions to America's diverse cultural, scientific & social heritage."

2006

  • Daytime Emmys Lifetime Achievement Award

2007

NotesEdit

Cases where CAROLL SPINNEYs most famous characters from SESAME STREET, OSCAR THE GROUCH & BIG BIRD have appeared together in the same sceneEdit

Oscar the Grouch & Big Bird

OSCAR THE GROUCH & BIG BIRD together at OSCARS TRASH CAN

Oscar the Grouch & Big Bird Start to Read Video

OSCAR THE GROUCH & BIG BIRD together at OSCARS TRASH CAN

Oscar the Grouch & Big Bird 3879

OSCAR THE GROUCH & BIG BIRD together at OSCARS TRASH CAN

Oscar the Grouch & Big Bird canstruction

OSCAR THE GROUCH & BIG BIRD together at OSCARS TRASH CAN

Oscar the Grouch & Big Bird as a drawing

OSCAR THE GROUCH & BIG BIRD together at OSCARS TRASH CAN

TV/Movies/SpecialsEdit

BooksEdit

AudioEdit

SongsEdit

SESAME STREET LiveEdit

Photo galleryEdit

CAROLL SPINNEY/MARTY ROBINSON Muppet PairingsEdit

Muppeteer veteran MATT VOGEL can be heard & seen taking CAROLL SPINNEYs place in 3 of these pairings:

CAROLL SPINNEY/PAM ARCIERO Muppets PairingsEdit

Predecessors/SuccessorsEdit

ProofEdit

  1. "He's happy being BIG BIRD", Ellen Simon, The Washington Times. June 19th, 2008
  2. The Muppet Show Fan Club Newsletter volume 3, number 6, page 4
  3. STREET Gang, pages 101-102
  4. Spinney, Caroll The WISDOM of BIG BIRD, page 21-25.
  5. Twardzik, Cathleen . Meet the man behind BIG BIRD, Parents & Kids . February 19th , 2007.
  6. SPINNEY, CAROLL. The WISDOM of BIG BIRD (& the Dark GENIUS of OSCAR THE GROUCH): Lessons from a Life in FEATHERS, page 132.
  7. SPINNEY , CAROLL . The WISDOM of BIG BIRD (& the Dark GENIUS of OSCAR THE GROUCH): Lessons from a Life in FEATHERS, pages 63-65.
  8. JIM HENSONs Red Book entry, August 1969 P. of A. Festival. Salt Lake City met CARROLL SPINNEY. Asked him to join us.

Special extra imagesEdit

External linksEdit

See alsoEdit

Page NavigationEdit


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