With Sesame Street marking its 50th anniversary this year, it’s perhaps fitting that the man who was second to only Jim Henson in his contribution to the Children’s Television Workshop classic has passed on. Caroll Spinney (so named because his mother went into labour on Christmas Day) was a keen puppeteer as a child and even paid his way through college with a Punch and Judy show. Henson spent nearly a decade trying to recruit Spinney to his workshop, finally doing so ahead of 1969’s Sesame Street launch. Spinney performed the show’s two most iconic characters: the yin of Big Bird and the yang of Oscar the Grouch. Spinney’s health had been declining due to a battle with dystonia in recent years, but he only stepped down from the role of Big Bird in 2018. His final taped episodes were still premiering this year as part of the aforementioned 50th anniversary celebrations.