Sesame Street puppeteer Caroll Spinney dies at age 85

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Caroll Spinney with Oscar the Grouch at the 2014 MontClair Film Festival, Photo Date: 5/3/2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Sesame Workshop says Caroll Spinney, who gave Big Bird his warmth and Oscar the Grouch his growl for nearly 50 years on “Sesame Street,” died Sunday at the age of 85 at his home in Connecticut.

The Sesame Workshop said in a statement that the legendary puppeteer lived for some time with dystonia, which causes involuntary muscle contractions.

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Spinney voiced and operated the two major Muppets from their inception in 1969 when he was 36, and performed them almost exclusively into his 80s on the PBS kids’ television show that later moved to HBO.