The man behind both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch — Caroll Spinney — has died at the age of 85. As both a puppeteer and a voice actor, Spinney defined not only two of the most beloved characters on Sesame Street but also influenced countless childhoods for the past five decades. In 2018, Spinney formally retired from Sesame Street, ending 49-years of continuous work.
If you’re having a hard time wrapping your mind around the absolutely amazing amount of time one person dedicated to making so many children happy, you’re not alone. Online and elsewhere, people are mourning the loss of Spinney, but also, celebrating his life’s work and thoughtful impact on the lives of children, and parents, everywhere. Someone who can both be a grouch and an aspirational look-on-the-bright-side flightless bird demonstrates not just great kids’ entertainment, but a smart and nuanced way of thinking about the world.
Here are the most heartwarming and thoughtful tributes to Spinney online right now. From Frank Oz, to Mark Hamill to children’s author Mo Willems, each of these comments will remind you why Spinney was great, but also, give you a new perspective on why Sesame Street continues to matter so much.