The gentlest of giants is taking his final bow.
Caroll Spinney, better known as Big Bird, is retiring this week from “Sesame Street.” His last day of filming is today – for the 50th anniversary episodes of the show.
Mr. Spinney, who also played Oscar the Grouch – fan of all things dirty, dingy, and dusty – has been with the show from the very beginning, when he was recruited by creator and visionary Jim Henson. It was Spinney’s idea to make Big Bird a child, who would learn alongside the children watching TV. The sweet nature of the flightless yellow bird with the big orange feet became the soul of the show.
“Big Bird has always had the biggest heart on ‘Sesame Street,’ and that’s Caroll’s gift to us,” Jeffrey Dunn, the president and chief executive of Sesame Workshop, told The New York Times.
As the sobbing audiences of grown-ups who turned “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” into the biggest bio-documentary of all time this summer know, a childlike spirit and unfailing kindness are rare and worth celebrating. Fred Rogers and Spinney were both puppeteers who thought children’s feelings were important and worth protecting.
So thank you, on behalf of generations of kids, for a half-century of sunny days.
Now, for our five stories of the day.