Carroll Spinney, the man behind Sesame Street‘s Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch has died. He was 85-years-old.

Spinney died in his Connecticut home, after a long battle with Dystonia.

Dystonia is a movement disorder, which causes one’s muscles to contract uncontrollably.

Spinney worked on Sesame Street for 49 years.  He retired last year.

The legendary pupeteer has revealed that Big Bird didn’t resonate with audiences, at first.  Then he turned him into “a big kid” – and the rest is history.

How he operated Big Bird was amazing:  Spinney would hold the 5-pound head in his right hand, while he worked the mouth and eyebrows.  Meanwhile, with his left hand, he operated both of Big Bird’s arms.

Spinney has starred in more Sesame Street episodes than any other cast member.

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