Caroll Spinney Of “Sesame Street” Remembered In Tribute Post From Crystal Gayle

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Crystal Gayle / Instagram

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On December 8, Sesame Street announced that one of its most beloved cast members had passed away. That cast member was 85-year-old Caroll Spinney, who served as the puppeteer and voice actor for Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.

He portrayed the two characters from the show’s inception in 1969 until his retirement in 2018.

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Posted by Caroll Spinney on Saturday, September 15, 2018

Spinney suffered from dystonia, a condition that causes involuntary muscle contractions. In its statement about Spinney’s passing, Sesame Street wrote he had lived with the condition “for some time.”

The statement also paid tribute to Spinney’s legacy on Sesame Street, reading:

In these characters, Caroll Spinney gave something truly special to the world. With deepest admiration, Sesame Workshop is proud to carry his legacy – and his beloved characters – into the future. Our hearts go out to his beloved wife, Debra, and all of his children and grandchildren. We will miss him dearly.”

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Caroll Spinney, the legendary puppeteer behind beloved Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, died today, December 8th 2019, at age 85 at his home in Connecticut, after living with Dystonia for some time. Since 1969, Caroll’s kind and loving view of the world helped shape and define Sesame Street. His enormous talent and outsized heart were perfectly suited to playing the larger-than-life yellow bird who brought joy to countless fans of all ages around the world, and his lovably cantankerous grouch gave us all permission to be cranky once in a while. In these characters, Caroll Spinney gave something truly special to the world. With deepest admiration, Sesame Workshop is proud to carry his legacy – and his beloved characters – into the future. Our hearts go out to his beloved wife, Debra, and all of his children and grandchildren. We will miss him dearly.

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Another person who will miss Spinney is country music artist Crystal Gayle. The “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” singer took to Instagram to pay tribute to him after she learned of his passing.

In her tribute, Gayle shared an old, black and white photo of herself on Sesame Street. Gayle can be seen smiling at the camera as Big Bird (aka Spinney) stands behind her, his arms open wide.

When I’m asked who my favorite celebrity is that I’ve had the honor of working with in my career, I always say – Big Bird!” Gayle wrote in her tribute.

She then went on to honor Spinney, writing, “Caroll Spinney will always have a special place in my heart.”

Gayle ended her tribute by extending her prayers to Spinney’s family. He is survived by his wife, Debra, and his three children from his first marriage.

We too, join Gayle in sending our prayers to Spinney’s family and loved ones during this sad time. He will be missed.

Gayle wasn’t the only country artist that Spinney ever interacted with as one of his Sesame Street characters. Back in 1985, he portrayed Big Bird in the film Follow that Bird, and got the chance to sing a duet with Waylon Jennings.

You can remember Spinney’s legacy by watching that duet, called “Ain’t No Road Too Long,” in the video below.

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