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.
Caroll was a convention fixture, frankly I lost track how many times we'd see him at one, along with his lovely wife. On the television show, he was arguably the most important performer. Big Bird, at least in the 70s and 80s prior to a red moron taking over, was the STAR of the series. He was the intelligent though naive character that children gravitated and learned the most from. His other great character, Oscar the Grouch, was of course the comedic foil of the show. He made me laugh the most. Any convention that Caroll appeared at, he was literally one of the most influential celebrities there. Even though he'd often be given a table off in the bowels somewhere.
The first time I met him, at NYCC in 2011, I wound up speaking to him for several minutes, it was really a great moment. I didn't buy anything, just chatted while he had no one in his line. In fact, I recall he was positioned next or near to Mark Hamill, who joined into the conversation for a few seconds, which was equally fun.
The following October in fact, I decided to actually meet him, at Chiller in Parsippany. We had another cool chat, and he signed one of my old childhood records.
Several years later, in April of 2016, I decided to get him one last time on a full LP of the Sesame Happy Birthday album, which I'd found mint in a store. I was hanging with capman, and clearly Caroll had greatly slowed down but was nice as ever.
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