I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story

DOCUMENTARY; 1hr 31min

DIRECTED BY: Dave LaMattina & Chad Walker

Feathered friend: Spinney (in the 1970s)

Everybody knows Big Bird, Sesame Street ’s 8ft-tall resident sweetie — or if they don’t, they should. But only a relatively select few are familiar with the man inside his sunny plumage. Until now, that is: take a bow, puppeteer Caroll Spinney. The legs, beak and soul of the Bird from his 1969 debut (and the curmudgeonly pipes behind trash-can resident Oscar the Grouch), at age 80 Spinney is still loving his work.


As Spinney, his family and his workmates recall the decades of his fairy-storied career — from a 1969 big break with Jim Henson’s Muppets to global feathered-BB fame — the best bits are everything Sesame-sprinkled. In the midst of the Muppety hoopla, the genial Spinney is a devoted family man and home-movie maker whose simpatico wife, Debra, is his beloved lifeline. Yet when encased in his costume or crouched behind his dustbin, Spinney is also essentially flying solo. He’s alone but never lonely, inextricably bound to his forever-innocent alter ego. “I know I don’t own Big Bird,” he says in a touching nutshell of their bond. “But I own his soul, I feel.”