Performer Retires after 50 years Playing Icon

Caroll Spinney the legendary Big Bird performer is retiring. We look at his in costume contributions and his ability to define the character of Big Bird.

My heart sank when I saw that “Big Bird” was trending on Twitter along with National Pasta Day.  The iconic bird occasionally makes news but I feared the worst. I clicked and scanned the headlines….heart sank again….until I saw that final word.  Retiring, not dead.

Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who played Big Bird on ‘Sesame Street,’ is retiring – The Boston Globe

Deep breath.

While I have always been more of an Oscar guy (also played by Spinney) the talent of playing the character Big Bird is undeniable. What I loved even more is his ability to understand the CHARACTER of Big Bird, the WHY of whatever it is he does.  When you are creating a character (like any mascot performer is doing) this is just the basis for everything.  Every action, reaction, and interaction.

Spinney wrote the book on character development, or at least he wrote a book on it. I happen to think it’s mandatory reading for any character and mascot.  It tells the story of Big Bird and he came to be.  With dozens or great examples of why he acts like he does and how Spinney and the writers found the voice of the character which allowed them to write for him for 5o years.

If you want to be a better mascot, make your mascot understand his character better, or just laugh about the iconic puppet bird, check out the book.

Now, lets be thankful Spinney is just retiring and take a moment to appreciate all he’s given us.

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