Caroll Spinney

Sesame Street's Big Bird & Oscar the Grouch

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At the Podium

In an honest and endearing tone, Spinney vividly recalls a life enriched by pursuing and attaining his childhood dream. Optimism, knowledge, and diversity are the values around which Sesame Street is built. At the podium, Spinney discusses how he’s helped children reach their highest potential.

Very engaging and extremely passionate dream-come-true for so many of the guests.

- University of Illinois

About Caroll Spinney

Named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, Big Bird has captivated children around the world for more than 30 years. A puppeteer since he was eight years old, Caroll Spinney has been the man inside the bird from the beginning. Also playing Oscar the Grouch, his characters have been seen on more than 3,900 shows in 148 countries.

Jim Henson, who was working with Joan Ganz Cooney and the Children’s Television Workshop to develop characters for a new educational children’s television show, saw Spinney perform a combined puppetry and animation show at the Puppeteers of America Festival in Salt Lake City in 1969. Henson persuaded Spinney to come to New York to join the cast of Sesame Street, which premiered later that year.

Spinney is the author of The Wisdom of Big Bird (And the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from a Life in Feathers, an inspirational memoir in which he shares the wisdom that he has gleaned over the years from his work creating and portraying one of the world’s most beloved characters. In an honest and endearing tone, Spinney vividly recalls a life enriched by pursuing and attaining his childhood dream.

Speech Topics

  • Helping Children Reach Their Potential
  • The Wisdom of Big Bird

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