Tags: caroll spinney | big bird | touching | story | dying | child

Caroll Spinney, Big Bird, Tells Touching Story of Dying Child

By    |   Friday, 08 May 2015 05:48 AM

Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer behind "Sesame Street's" Big Bird for 46 years, told an audience on Reddit a touching story about his interaction with a dying child that drove home the connection the character has made with children.

Spinney, who also played Oscar the Grouch, was on Reddit on Thursday in part to promote his documentary "I Am Big Bird: The Carroll Spinney Story." Spinney was making appearances at New York City's IFC Center this weekend where the documentary is being shown, according to Reddit.

"I got a letter from a fan who said his little boy, who was five years old, his name was Joey, he was dying of cancer," Spinney wrote after someone asked him about one of his "most meaningful interaction" with children. "And he was so ill, the little boy knew he was dying. So the man in his letter asked if I would call the little boy. He said the only thing that cheered him at all in his fading state was to see Big Bird on television."

Spinney said he agreed and Joey's father arranged the phone call. He said he chatted with the child for about 10 minutes in his Big Bird voice.

"Hello. Hello Joey. It's me Big Bird," Spinney said he told the boy, who responded "Is it really you Big Bird?

At the end of the conversation the child said, "I'm glad you're my friend Big Bird."

The boy's father told Spinney that it was the first time Joey had smiled in months during and after the conversation and wrote a "thank you" letter to him. Spinney wrote that the boy passed away shortly afterward.

"And I could see that what I say to children can be very important," Spinney wrote. "(Joey) smiled, as he passed away."

Spinney's documentary highlights his relationship with his wife Debra, who spent years recording their life together, giving co-directors Dave LaMattina and Chad Walker plenty of background to work from, according to Entertainment Weekly.

"That was a surprise that happened in that first meeting where you could see that Caroll and Deb are just so deeply connected … and to see that love exists between a couple, an older couple that looks like a couple of teenagers in the room," LaMattina told Entertainment Weekly.

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Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer behind "Sesame Street's" Big Bird for 46 years, told an audience on Reddit a touching story about his interaction with a dying child that drove home the connection the character has made with children.
caroll spinney, big bird, touching, story, dying, child
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