Hello! Hello Joey! It's me, Big Bird!
May 8, 2015 2:19 PM   Subscribe

I got a letter from a fan who said his little boy, who was 5 years old, his name was Joey, he was dying of cancer. Guy who plays Big Bird drops the saddest story of all time.
posted by popcassady (81 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
There's a lot of dust in that article.

Big Bird is doing important work


QFT
posted by chavenet at 2:23 PM on May 8, 2015 [15 favorites]




I think this is the 'right in the feels' equivalent of the five point palm exploding heart technique....
posted by Morriscat at 2:26 PM on May 8, 2015 [23 favorites]


Where did all this dust come from, its all up in my eyes.
posted by Fizz at 2:29 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Damn allergies!
posted by jim in austin at 2:29 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm a middle aged mother myself now. I grew up with Big Bird in my life. He's a few weeks older than me.

Somewhere in the back of my brain I kinda still think he's real. I consider him an old friend, and I have no doubt a phone call from Big Bird in my last hours would put a massive smile on my face.

Bless his yellow socks. I love Big Bird. And Mr Looper.
posted by taff at 2:31 PM on May 8, 2015 [25 favorites]


Good lord. Full body goosebumps followed by sudden something-in-my-eye.

The legacy of Jim Henson continues across the decades, and it never fails to touch me. Spinney has been doing a lot of reflecting on life and humanity and mortality lately. And at 81, I can understand why. He's been putting on that giant hot puppet and holding one arm above his head since 1962.

What will they do when Spinney dies, and thus Big Bird (and Oscar), what will Sesame Street do? Even just thinking about when Mr. Hooper died and how they had to address that with Big Bird makes me tear up again. But when Big Bird is gone?

The entire world will cry when it's explained to everyone that Big Bird's not coming back.
posted by hippybear at 2:35 PM on May 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


And I could see that what I say to children can be very important.

And Mr. Rodgers, somewhere, nods in agreement. Well done Mr. Spinney Well done.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:37 PM on May 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


They're not going to kill Big Bird. I mean, look, no one killed Kermit. Big Bird'll have a new muppeteer, and people who imprinted too inflexibly on Mr. Spinney's voice will have a lot of trouble adjusting, but kids growing up with the new voice will continue to love Big Bird.
posted by theatro at 2:39 PM on May 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


He's been doing *this* to earn a paycheck for 46 years.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:39 PM on May 8, 2015 [17 favorites]


I think in the reddit ama he mentioned that he had a guy who will take over for him, but since his family is very long-lived he wasn't expecting that to happen anytime soon.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 2:47 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


¡
posted by Oyéah at 2:51 PM on May 8, 2015


Aargh! I can't find it in the AMA! Maybe I read it somewhere else?

Here's the full AMA.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 2:57 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm far away from home and haven't seen my kids for far too long. I just sat I'm my hotel from and cried like a baby for 10 minutes after reading that.
posted by Dr. Twist at 2:57 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, while Spinney is still the primary Big Bird performer, Matt Vogel has been taking over on occasion.
posted by Shmuel510 at 2:58 PM on May 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


He's been doing *this* to earn a paycheck for 46 years.

From a different interview:
After decades of holding your arm above your head in the Big Bird costume, is your right shoulder just so much stronger than your left?
There was an urban legend going around in the early days that my right arm was twice the size of my left. I went to a wine and cheese gathering where I met Dr. Seuss on the roof of the Sesame Street headquarters. I had to convince this group of people it wasn’t true. They said to me, “how would you know?” I told them “I guarantee you, it’s the same size.”
Gotta love a story where hanging out with Dr. Seuss on the roof of Sesame Street HQ is just the setup.
posted by Etrigan at 3:10 PM on May 8, 2015 [60 favorites]


Oh god, crying at work. Big Bird was totally my best friend when I was growing up, too.
posted by Hermione Granger at 3:12 PM on May 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Emotional abuse from Oscar the Grouch" will be included on any advanced care directive I make from now on.
posted by dr_dank at 3:33 PM on May 8, 2015 [15 favorites]


Tears. Just totally done in.
posted by leslies at 3:43 PM on May 8, 2015


I think we need a catchy initialism like "NSFW" for things like this. "MCUB" maybe? ("May Cause Uncontrollable Blubbering.")
posted by ob1quixote at 3:48 PM on May 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


And I could see that what I say to children can be very important.
And Mr. Rodgers, somewhere, nods in agreement.

I recently mentioned the story of Big Bird visiting the Neighborhood of Make-believe. Spinney addresses it in this IAMA response:
Well, see - other people make arguments in favor of us being totally honest, that does not fit with my feeling of the joy of being a little child. I've seen a child discover me - we thought we were alone in a park, filming a scene outdoors on some great stretches of rock, we had to do a shot for a China film - and a little boy came along, and he saw me take Big Bird off! And he screamed, and cried, and I said "Quick!" - he looked so funny with his little legs, running away, crying and crying - and I chased after him, with the costume back on- and I said "Little boy, I'm okay" and he said "I thought that man was hurting you, Big Bird."

When children see that Big Bird - Mr. Rogers wanted me to lift the puppet which is so big I have to get inside, off - it's a series of hoops that create the shape of Big Bird, and then there's netting and feathers, they're all real feathers so he looks nice and real - we found out that children would NOT have liked seeing Big Bird take it off on Mr. Rogers. I said "I'm sorry, I can't do that!" Jim Henson didn't want me to do it either.

So we made a compromise with Mr. Rogers.

And that was that I would just go to the Make-Believe Land, and say "OK, this is Make-Believe" and have some other puppeteers - a good friend of mine, Bob Brown, would show how HIS puppets worked - little marionettes on strings - they don't look so real anyway, like Big Bird did to little kids.

We're not trying to fool them, we're just trying to entertain them, and let them know that their friend Big Bird is not just a man in a giant suit.
posted by zamboni at 3:50 PM on May 8, 2015 [17 favorites]


Big Bird seems to have more than one understudy.
posted by lagomorphius at 3:51 PM on May 8, 2015


So we 'drop' stories now. Okay, noted. No more storytelling. Now, storydropping...
posted by Splunge at 3:54 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


It could be said that Carroll Spinney does everything Fred Rogers did while keeping one arm over his head at all times.
referring to the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers quote, in case you missed it
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:57 PM on May 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


I've read that when celebrities come to do their cameos on Sesame Street, they often cry when they meet the Muppets in person, because the Muppets have been THEIR friends since childhood too.

I've also read that even adults incessantly talk to the puppet instead of the person, even when the person is right there explaining how the scene is going to go or whatever. "So then I'll have the puppet lay his head on your arm --" "Okay, Oscar!"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:58 PM on May 8, 2015 [16 favorites]


Am I alone in thinking the story is bullshit. Just the way it sets up and leads to the heart string pulling conclusion.
posted by humanfont at 4:21 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes.
posted by ardgedee at 4:26 PM on May 8, 2015 [28 favorites]


I hope you're alone in thinking that.

Nothing about it sounds like anything other than "A super sad story, related dozens and dozens of times over 40 years of making memories for literally millions of children."
posted by DigDoug at 4:26 PM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Am I alone in thinking the story is bullshit. Just the way it sets up and leads to the heart string pulling conclusion.

You take your dry eyes and get out.

Doubting the man behind the Bird. Kids these days indeed...
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:28 PM on May 8, 2015 [18 favorites]


Dangit! Got me.
posted by Glinn at 4:32 PM on May 8, 2015


I've read that when celebrities come to do their cameos on Sesame Street, they often cry when they meet the Muppets in person, because the Muppets have been THEIR friends since childhood too.

I'm a low-key, reserved man, who has a reputation at work for maintaining a calm demeanor in a crisis.

I would completely fucking lose my shit if I were on Sesame Street. Completely.

Carroll Spinney is the best. The very best.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 4:43 PM on May 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


Yeah, read this yesterday and just kinda had to sit there and absorb it for a while. If anything 1/10 as important happened to me, I'd be a mess.
posted by drewbage1847 at 4:44 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Am I alone in thinking the story is bullshit. Just the way it sets up and leads to the heart string pulling conclusion.

Honestly, I was afraid that the conclusion would be that the kid never had cancer at all. That the whole thing would have been concocted by a lousy weekend dad who wanted to impress a kid he barely knew. This may, in fact, have been true. But I refuse to allow the internet's legacy of cancer-fakers and Munchausen-by-proxy artists to ruin this one simple story for me.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:48 PM on May 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm sure I've talked before about the time I met Caroll Spinney (can I call him Caroll? I want to call him Caroll) at a screening of I Am Big Bird in Silver Spring, and how he's one of the most sincere, sweetest people I've ever met, and how he let me fulfill one of my lifelong dreams by allowing me to give Oscar the Grouch a hug.

Just the other day, I (and many other backers of the I Am Big Bird Kickstarter, of course) received a package of goodies in anticipation of the DVD's release. It contained some postcards illustrated by Caroll, and the DVD of another documentary, and some other nice things... and it also contained, carefully protected in cardboard, a single yellow feather. I showed it to my wife and said "This is exactly what you think it is, and yes, it's real."

I will treasure this feather until the day I die.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:49 PM on May 8, 2015 [87 favorites]


Oh, wow. What a story.

Thank you so much for posting this. I just ordered tickets to the Saturday showing of I Am Big Bird that Caroll Spinney & filmmakers Dave LaMattina & Chad Walker are doing in person Q&As for. The possibility of talking to the man who brings Big Bird and Oscar to life fills me with glee.
posted by wiskunde at 4:58 PM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just the other day, I (and many other backers of the I Am Big Bird Kickstarter, of course) received a package of goodies in anticipation of the DVD's release. It contained some postcards illustrated by Caroll, and the DVD of another documentary, and some other nice things... and it also contained, carefully protected in cardboard, a single yellow feather. I showed it to my wife and said "This is exactly what you think it is, and yes, it's real."

How did I not know about this Kickstarter??!
so damn jealous of that feather
posted by DigDoug at 5:09 PM on May 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


I TOO AM JEALOUS OF THAT FEATHER
posted by chrominance at 5:13 PM on May 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


Am I alone in thinking the story is bullshit. Just the way it sets up and leads to the heart string pulling conclusion.

Sir, if you are calling Big Bird a liar, I shall have to ask you to step outside.
posted by Etrigan at 5:15 PM on May 8, 2015 [23 favorites]


Due to Faint of Butt's teasing, I looked up this kickstarter.
And there, is this link... When Caroll Met Jim

And now I'm smiling and crying again. And I just bought the movie off of Amazon. Thanks MetaFilter. You're good people. Even the butt guy.
posted by DigDoug at 5:22 PM on May 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Meh, feather schmeather.

Now the Oscar the Grouch lightswitch cover from my room growing up. You can pry that one from my cold, dead fingers.

posted by RolandOfEld at 5:25 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Biblical wailing)

I think I would cry through the entire movie at how old everyone is. (And how old I am as well.) I mean...did you see Bob in the trailer?
posted by kimberussell at 5:27 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh dear god. I'm a grown-ass grandfather whose kids are raising their kids on Big Bird and I'm sitting here in my recliner blubbering like a fuckin' baby.
Oh, and humanfont?
Could I have a word with you?

Outside.
posted by Floydd at 5:53 PM on May 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


When my son was two and a half, we met Big Bird at a local-station PBS fundraiser. (Not Spinney, some second-string Big Bird.) The big yellow bird walked into the room, my son's eyes got as big as plates, and he collapsed on the floor like he was having a religious experience, having lost all control of his limbs in joy and shock.

"Oh, don't worry," Big Bird's handler told us, "that happens a lot."

(It took quite a bit of coaxing to convince him to stand up and get a hug from Big Bird, then as soon as Big Bird moved on to the next family, he collapsed right back to the floor, stuffed both hands in his mouth, and refused to move or speak until after Big Bird left the building.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:02 PM on May 8, 2015 [40 favorites]


"Oh, don't worry," Big Bird's handler told us, "that happens a lot."

I'm a grown-ass adult and I think I might have exactly the same reaction if I met Big Bird!
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 6:05 PM on May 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


I made the mistake of reading this story at work last night, and had to leave the desk to compose myself.
posted by sarcasticah at 6:36 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I got a birthday card from Big Bird when I was 6 or 7 and it meant the absolute world to me, so yeah I can see how a phone call could lift a kid out of the dark for a moment.
posted by dogwalker at 6:39 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Am I alone in thinking the story is bullshit. Just the way it sets up and leads to the heart string pulling conclusion.

Almost no content on metafilter with the general "OMG, it's dusty in here" reaction actually makes me tear up. Because, for the most part, I'm a robot. The way it was told, the FPP story didn't even make me sad.

You know what made me sad? Someone calling Big Bird a liar.
posted by zennie at 6:50 PM on May 8, 2015 [32 favorites]


I don't even see why this is the slightest bit implausible...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:00 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


This further confirms what we learned in Don't Eat the Pictures: Big Bird is the best psychopomp.
posted by BiggerJ at 7:39 PM on May 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


If this had been anyone other than Big Bird telling the story, I would also have been sceptical. But Big Bird is unimpeachable.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:52 PM on May 8, 2015


I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Spinney (and his lovely wife) at a convention last year. I was doing fine, looking into his very kind eyes, until he opened his mouth, and Big Bird's voice said hello. I lost it. Sobbing. Like a three-year-old. Got it back together long enough to babble at him about how much his work had meant to me throughout my life. The two of them were very kind to me, and to my son (who maintained his teen cool throughout, and even managed not to laugh at me.) Posed for a picture, dried my eyes, went on my way. Next day, I stopped to see them again to get an autograph for a friend. Found myself tearing up again. And Big Bird's voice told me, "Don't cry..." Aaaaaaand...I lost it again. But I got a hug! From Big Bird!

I don't know if it was just the genuine kindness pouring out of these two, or that combined with the very long distance in years and hard experience between adult me and the child who first loved Big Bird. But some alchemy was there in his presence that just opened the floodgates.

I know some other women my age who had attended the con at different times that long weekend. I felt ridiculous confessing to them about my breakdown in front of Big Bird. Until I found out that Every. Single. One. of them who had met Carroll Spinney had similarly wept.

If Carroll Spinney told this story about the child, then I believe him. One of the most open hearts I have ever met.
posted by theplotchickens at 8:11 PM on May 8, 2015 [28 favorites]


:(
posted by wormwood23 at 8:14 PM on May 8, 2015


posted by theplotchickens at 8:11 PM on May 8 [+] [!]

Eponychickenical
posted by Dip Flash at 8:28 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


The entire world will cry when it's explained to everyone that Big Bird's not coming back.

Remember the Sesame Street Movie? Basically the plot is Big Bird is sent away from Sesame Street. Watching the seen when he leaves as a child...I don't think I ever cried so inconsolably.

And yeah, gonna add this to "I'll Love You Forever" as my list of things that can make me cry on cue.
posted by dry white toast at 9:40 PM on May 8, 2015


Big Bird was on the cover of Time in 1970 when I was about 18 months old. My father says it took quite a while before I let him read the magazine the day it came in the mail.
posted by brujita at 1:11 AM on May 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I loved Big Bird. And Grover. And that "You forgot your lunch" cartoon.
posted by thelonius at 1:17 AM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


(oops, tearing up from reading about someone being told not to cry by Big Bird).
posted by ChuraChura at 5:07 AM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of my dad's college roommates was a major backer of the Reading Rainbow kickstarter, and Levar Burton went over to his house for dinner a few times to work on logistical things. Unbeknownst to me, my dad asked him to have Levar Burton sign a picture for me. Which he did - but he also videotaped the signing event.

So there I was, sitting on the couch and doing some work and my dad IMs me and asked if I wanted to see something cool. No context, no hints, no nothing. Just a vimeo link. So I said sure, and he sent it to me, and there's Levar Burton signing a picture of himself, which is cool, but THEN he looks at the camera and says, "Erin - this is for you." And I became completely unhinged. Now, when I am feeling grumpy or upset or unproductive or not awesome enough to do something, I go and watch Levar Burton talking to me and decide that probably, I can do ANYTHING!
posted by ChuraChura at 5:13 AM on May 9, 2015 [27 favorites]


FYI ya'll.

The "I Am Big Bird" movie was a great way to spend a few hours last night. Thanks Faint of Butt.
posted by DigDoug at 5:33 AM on May 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, while Spinney is still the primary Big Bird performer, Matt Vogel has been taking over on occasion.
posted by Shmuel510


That's eponysterical in real life! Vogel means "bird" in German.
posted by workerant at 6:26 AM on May 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


Last time I lived in Hollywood, I was just a short walk from Muppet Studios, and as hard as it sometimes got there, it was always fun to remind myself that at least I had the muppets as my neighbors.

Henson and his gang are responsible for one of America's most significant artistic legacies. I'd put the work of the muppets up there with the records of Miles Davis in a time capsule of what American artists did right.
posted by maxsparber at 6:55 AM on May 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Okay, my housemate is getting up and ready to come into the living room and I'm going to have to tell her that I am crying about big bird. It's a hell of a lot more than that, mostly I'm crying for the wonder and amazement and magic of childhood.
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:59 AM on May 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yes, I teared up, yes, I'm confident the story is entirely true.

I'm older than Sesame Street, but watched it with my son, and then I got to introduce my grandson to Elmo and the rest of the gang. Jim Henson's gift keeps on giving.
posted by theora55 at 7:35 AM on May 9, 2015


That's eponysterical in real life! Vogel means "bird" in German.

It sure does! Caroll talks about that in the documentary; he noticed it when Matt Vogel first came in to audition as his understudy, and he thought it was a good omen.

Matt Vogel also performed Constantine, Kermit's evil doppelgänger, in Muppets Most Wanted. As a Muppeteer he's a relative newcomer, but he's very talented and a worthy successor.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:17 AM on May 9, 2015


Step outside? Wtf. I skeptical becaise I remember Kevin Clash's fall from grace who was similiarly feted for his portrayal of Elmo for decades.
I worry that we demand impossible standards from people like Spinney. It isn't a healthy thing for fans or the actor.
posted by humanfont at 9:49 AM on May 9, 2015


I will treasure this feather until the day I die... Big Bird seems to have more than one understudy.

My son got one of those feathers as well, a birth present many years ago from a friend who worked in those days as Spinney’s assistant. As I understand it, our friend himself ‘was’ Big Bird from time to time in situations – photo shoots, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade – where Bird’s speaking voice never was heard.

My favorite story he told me: they were doing the photos for I guess this book, Big Bird’s Farm, and a bunch of chickens were brought onto the scene. When those chickens got a look at Big Bird, they all snapped immediately to attention, as if their messiah had returned.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:17 AM on May 9, 2015 [17 favorites]


I skeptical becaise I remember Kevin Clash's fall from grace who was similiarly feted for his portrayal of Elmo for decades.

So... Kevin Clash likes underage boys, therefore Carrol Spinney is lying about talking to a cancer patient just before he died? Congratulations. You win today's Skeptical Iconoclast Sweepstakes.
posted by Etrigan at 10:24 AM on May 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


I worry that we demand impossible standards from people like Spinney. It isn't a healthy thing for fans or the actor.

There's still a huge leap between "not worshipping Spinney" and "distrusting anything Spinney says". If you're trying to singlehandedly counterbalance the adulation or something with the intensity of your cynicism, it doesn't quite work that way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:28 AM on May 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


A child dying of cancer is a sad story, true, but a child getting a last minute uplifting experience that puts a smile on their face as they bow out? More of a beautiful story to me
posted by Redhush at 12:00 PM on May 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Step outside?

You know there is no real 'outside' here right? I mean, we're using a turn of phrase not unlike the quintessential Old Man's "Get off my lawn". I know you know this isn't about actually leaving any structures to handle this with our fists.

I skeptical becaise I remember Kevin Clash's fall from grace who was similiarly feted for his portrayal of Elmo for decades.


By that logic how can we have any heros these days? Clash, Cosby, the children's TV show guy from the UK that I heard about but never watched because I'm in the US, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseam. Just because other child icons or celebrities or puppeteers do bad things doesn't mean we should inherently distrust all of the rest of them anytime a subject comes up that's more serious than what they had for lunch.

Not to mention the whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing.

I worry that we demand impossible standards from people like Spinney. It isn't a healthy thing for fans or the actor.

Being honest about talking, or not talking as you suppose upthread, to a kid suffering from and who subsequently died of cancer isn't an "impossible standard". Really it isn't. Being appalled that he got a speeding ticket would be an example of holding him to an impossible standard. This isn't like that.

Also, what's the motive? Why would he invent this story? To increase his brand? To make Sesame Street more popular? To sell his movie that is already long since kickstarted? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he's against the idea of publicity in general. He is doing an AMA after all. But he's Big Bird, the original. He knew Henson. They did stuff together. The guy doesn't have to do any pumping up of himself because, I mean, why... he's Big Bird.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:11 PM on May 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I also met Caroll Spinney & his wife at a convention; he was every bit the kind, warm hearted man I expected of the man who played the kindest, gentlest soul on Sesame Street. Are there skeletons lurking in his closet? I hope not; but that is immaterial. Ask any kid if Elmo is ruined for them due to the revelations about Kevin Clash. It's the Muppet that they love, not the Muppeteer. Same goes for Big Bird.

If you want to preemptively besmirch Carroll Spinney because of Kevin Clash or any number of media hoaxes, go right ahead. I get the point that we should be wary of putting our idols on pedestals. But, sometimes,some of them deserve all the accolades and adoration they get. Shit, I wish I could be half the human being that Big Bird, a fucking Muppet, is. That's some hella good performing, and it all seems to come from an authentic place within Caroll Spinney. So I'm content to give the man his due and take him at his word until I'm presented with evidence that he is anything less than the man so many people have found him to be.

I said it three years ago when Mitt "I want to put Big Bird out of work" Romney" lost to Obama and i'll say it again: Nobody puts Big Bird in the corner. NOBODY.
posted by KingEdRa at 12:57 PM on May 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


IIRC, the boys had presented themselves as past the age of consent on the hookup sites.
posted by brujita at 4:31 PM on May 9, 2015


So no one can be skeptical of a perfectly tuned heart tugging tale told by an actor on a publicity tour to promote his autobiography because the actor in question is a nice guy and also we love the character he plays? That's silly.
posted by humanfont at 4:31 PM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


So no one can be skeptical of a perfectly tuned heart tugging tale told by an actor on a publicity tour to promote his autobiography because the actor in question is a nice guy and also we love the character he plays?

"[T]his is bullshit" is not "skeptical". Nor is "I remember Kevin Clash's fall from grace", presented as evidence that someone else in the same profession is lying.
posted by Etrigan at 4:58 PM on May 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Mr. Rogers was, by every account, an absolute saint. If you're gonna make a wild assumption about Spinney based on the behavior of an entirely different person who happens to be a member of his profession, why not make a nice one?
posted by rifflesby at 5:20 PM on May 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


IIRC, the boys had presented themselves as past the age of consent on the hookup sites.

True. And, of course, Clash was cleared of all charges. I think he made some extremely bad decisions, but I don't think he's a predator or a danger, and he's still in my good books.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:29 PM on May 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


So no one can be skeptical of a perfectly tuned heart tugging tale told by an actor on a publicity tour to promote his autobiography because the actor in question is a nice guy and also we love the character he plays? That's silly.

Oh, wait, I get it now! You like Oscar better. Well, that's also Carol Spinney, so it's okay!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:02 PM on May 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


This is probably my favorite photo of Spinney.

"It's the same actor playing Big Bird and Oscar, which I'm sure has saved him thousands of dollars in therapy." —Sonia Manzano (who plays Maria)
posted by Shmuel510 at 6:32 PM on May 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 6:27 PM on May 10, 2015


As a kid I never really got into big bird. He was just a little too sincere. Too earnest. Too much like the kids my teachers always wanted us to be. Big bird was the good kid that I slightly resented. The kid who could draw really well but had no sense of humor. The kid who insisted on to telling the teacher immediately upon discovering a magically unlocked door in the school hallway. I envied his social skills, but I certainly didn't want to hang out with him.

Oscar the Grouch, on the other hand, was my kind of of Muppet. Self-aware, bitingly crass and ironic. He was filled with bitterness at the state of the world, yet fundamentally kind and fair when push comes to shove. Oscar's a kind soul who recognizes the world as it is and reacts accordingly, turning cruelty and ugliness into humor, rather than insisting against all evidence that the world is a wonderful place. Perhaps I was an unusually jaded three year old, but Oscar was the kind of friend I always wanted to have. (My mother had to spend more time than she'd have liked coaxing me out of garbage cans.) It took another 15 years to learn how to find those people in real life, but I knew they were out there somewhere.

My love of Oscar was second only to Snuffleupagus, who, having no actual personality was a blank slate onto which one could pin any of the imaginary-friend qualities one desired.

I started this post discussing how unexciting it would be to meet Big Bird, but how overwhelmed I'd be if I met the guy who played Oscar. . . only to discover that Oscar was also played by Carroll Spinney. Wow.

I'd never heard the name before today, but it seems that Carroll Spinney belong on the list of secular saints of American childhood, along with Fred Rogers, Levar Burton, and Don Herbert. Gonna go cry for a bit now, I think. Many thanks.
posted by eotvos at 12:10 PM on May 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Secular Saints would be a great name for a band.
Or a blog.
posted by DigDoug at 3:10 PM on May 11, 2015


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