Caroll Edwin Spinney (December 26, 1933 - December 8, 2019) has performed Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird and Elmo on Sesame Street for 41 years. In a 2008 Washington Times article, Spinney said that even though performing Big Bird is physically demanding work, the 77-year-old has no intention of stopping, saying, "I can't imagine willingly walking away from Big Bird, Elmo and Oscar."
Spinney was born in Waltham, Massachusetts & 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.
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.
Spinney currently resides in Woodstock, Connecticut, w/ his wife, Debra. The couple have 3 children.
- Sesame Street: Baby Monster, Bennett Snerf (Anything Muppet version), Big Bird, Big Bird (animated) ("The Street We Live On"), Bruno the Trashman, Granny Bird, Hippie, Lefty the Salesman (occasional), Oscar the Grouch, Oscar the Grouch (animated), Elmo (1970s), Shivers the Penguin (early 80s), Squeaky the Elf, Yellow Submarine Pumpkin pilot, various Anything Muppet characters
- Wow, You're a Cartoonist!: Picklepuss & Pop
- Christmas Eve on Sesame Street: Oscar the Grouch & Big Bird
- The Muppet Movie: Big Bird
- The Great Muppet Caper: Oscar the Grouch
- The Muppets Take Manhattan: Oscar the Grouch & Big Bird
- Follow That Bird: Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird & Bruno the Trashman
- A Muppet Family Christmas: Oscar the Grouch & Big Bird
- Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting: Oscar the Grouch & Big Bird
- Jim Henson's memorial service: Himself & as both Oscar the Grouch & Big Bird
- The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson: Big Bird
- The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland: Oscar the Grouch & Big Bird
- Elmo's Christmas Countdown: Oscar the Grouch & Big Bird
- See also Big Bird Filmography & Oscar the Grouch Filmography for all other films, guest appearances & specials
Awards & Honors
- Spinney has earned 4 Daytime Emmy Awards, 2 Gold Records, & 2 Grammy Awards.
- As Big Bird, Spinney was honored with a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- 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."
- Daytime Emmys Lifetime Achievement Award
- Outstanding Performer In A Children's Series (tie):, Spinney as Oscar the Grouch & Kevin Clash as Elmo