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Puppeteer Caroll Spinney

End of an era: Original Big Bird is leaving ‘Sesame Street’

NEW YORK: After nearly 50 years on Sesame Street, the actor who has brought Big Bird to life on the iconic children's television series since its debut in 1969 is retiring. Puppeteer Caroll Spinney, who also plays Oscar the Grouch, has hand-picked his successors to play the two roles — after mentoring them for more than two decades. "Big Bird brought me so many places, opened my mind and nurtured my soul," Spinney said in a statement released Wednesday by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization that produces the…