Big Bird brings fans to tears on Reddit Q&A

Big Bird: Caroll Spinney shares heartwarming story.
Big Bird: Caroll Spinney shares heartwarming story.  Photo: Supplied

Puppeteer Caroll Spinney, who plays Sesame Street's Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, broke our hearts during his Reddit Q&A on Thursday.

While promoting his documentary I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story, the icon brought fans to tears while sharing his most meaningful interaction with a fan.

Reddit user man_mayo asked Spinney, 81, about his most "meaningful interaction with a child during filming?"

'Seasme Street': Caroll Spinney with Oscar the Grouch.
'Seasme Street': Caroll Spinney with Oscar the Grouch.  

"This is a very sad story, but it's real," wrote Spinney.

He received a letter from the father of a five-year-old boy, Joey, who was dying of cancer.

"He was so ill, the little boy knew he was dying."

"He said the only thing that cheered him at all in his fading state was to see Big Bird on television."

The father asked Spinney if he could call his son and tell him how good he has been.

In those days there weren't mobile phones, so "they got a long cord to bring a phone to the boy," he wrote.


"I had Big Bird say 'Hello! Hello Joey! It's me, Big Bird!'

"So he said 'Is it really you Big Bird?'

"Yes, it is."

Sesame Street.
Sesame Street. Photo: Supplied

After chatting with Joey for about ten minutes the boy said: "I'm glad you're my friend Big Bird."

"Thank you for calling me Big Bird. You're my friend. You make me happy."

Joey's father and mother had been sitting with their son that day. They had been called to sit with him as "they weren't sure how long he would last."

Writing to Spinney, Joey's father said: "'Thank you, thank you' - he hadn't seen him smile since October, and this was in March - and when the phone was hung up, he said 'Big Bird called me! He's my friend.'"

"And he closed his eyes. And he passed away."

"It was a gift to us. Thank you."

Spinney has played the characters of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch for 46 years and says he attributes the success of Sesame Street to making the show appealing for both adults and children.

Touching so many people's lives with his puppets, Spinney says it feels incredible.

"I've had that happen a lot," he says.

"When I bring out Oscar - I just say two words with him - and it's very nostalgic for people."

"And that's why they're so pleased, and excited.

"Because nostalgia, and memories of your happy times as a child, makes you feel pretty good!"

Read Caroll Spinney's full Q&A here.

Follow Essential Kids on Twitter