Sesame Street puppeteer Caroll Spinney, famed for played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since the children’s show first launched in 1969, is leaving the series at the age of 84.
Spinney, who has won two Grammys and six Emmys for his roles, in addition to a Lifetime Achievement Emmy back in 2006, released a statement via the official Sesame Street Twitter page.
“Before I came to Sesame Street, I didn’t feel like what I was doing was important,” he said. “Big Bird helped me find my purpose.
“Even as I step down from my roles, I feel I will always be Big Bird. And even Oscar, once in a while!”
Spinney’s long career, which has also earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was the subject of 2014 film I Am Big Bird.
“His genius and his talent made Big Bird the most beloved yellow feathered friend across the globe,” said Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder of the Sesame Workshop, in a statement.
Matt Vogel, Sesame Street’s current puppet captain, will be taking over the role of the iconic big yellow bird, while Oscar the Grouch will be played by Eric Jacobson.