Caroll Spinney, the voice behind Big Bird, has died

US puppeteer Caroll Spinney, famous for playing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on children’s TV show Sesame Street, has died at 85 years old.

A Sesame Workshop statement since his passing said Spinney had been living with dystonia for some time. He passed away at his home in Connecticut.

Spinney had been portraying these characters since the beginning of the show in 1969. He died just one year after his retirement.

“Caroll was an artistic genius whose kind and loving view of the world helped shape and define Sesame Street from its earliest days in 1969 through five decades. His legacy here at Sesame Workshop and in the cultural firmament will be unending,” the statement said.