Can Big Bird fly off Sesame Street

Once, seven years ago, you could talk to the real Caroll Spinney, and of course it was a great moment because the conversation took place on Broadway 1900, Lincoln Plaza, New York. What an address! This is where Sesame Street resides, and whoever grew up with Sesame Street as a child wanted to go to where the dolls lived. Caroll Spinney was a few minutes late, he had had a couple of Christmas cards reproduced in a copy shop, which he drew himself every year and on which, of course, Bibo could be seen, the big yellow bird from Sesame Street, Spinney's creature . The Americans call him "Big Bird".

The puppeteer Spinney has been in the bird's costume since the first Sesame Street episode in 1969, he also played and spoke Oscar, the curmudgeon from the garbage can. Spinney was a legend, but Spinney was pretty much the friendliest person in the world, and of course the success of Sesame Street had to do with him.

Every morning he first put on the soft orange trousers with the bird's feet, then a technician came and put a belt around him, to which the monitor and microphone were attached. Only then did they put the bird's body over him, Spinney was now Bibo, his right arm was stuck in the bird's head, with his little finger he could operate a lever that moved the eyelids, so it was an enormous effort to get Bibo to life was awakened, but you never saw it on TV. On TV there was always this huge canary who didn't know everything and kept running against deep-seated branches. He had a huge nest, but he was always a little alone. Just like the children who watched him.

Bibo should actually have been a stupid bird, that is what Sesame Street inventor Jim Henson had thought, but simplicity was not enough for the puppeteer Spinney, he let Bibo talk like a maybe six-year-old child, there is always something there Everyday philosophy inside. Bibo was never aggressive towards people or monsters, he always remained curious, he never scared anyone. He could develop (unlike the clumsy bear Samson, who replaced him in the German version).

At some point a journalist wrote about Sesame Street and the sentence included: "And then there is this big, compassionate bird." Caroll Spinney could recite the sentence by heart during the conversation back in New York. "This journalist realized what I was about. Somehow the compassion was expressed through Big Bird's character."

"Sometimes I dream of being able to fly"

Creating a compassionate bird is a lifetime achievement. Who would have succeeded in doing something similar? Spinney and Bibo went on a trip together, made films, won prizes, worked 46 years on Sesame Street, accompanied generations of children, remained partners, were friends, were one. A life in feathers.

"Sometimes I dream of being able to fly," said Spinney. "I am flying overhead and no one is surprised that I can." Until 2015 he played and spoke the bird, temporarily he (Bibo) became a political figure when the presidential candidate Mitt Romney threatened in 2012 to cut subsidies for the then Sesame Street broadcaster PBS. Feathered and conventional fans gathered around Bibo, who even joined Saturday Night Live and said in Spinney's nasal voice that the whole thing was extremely scary to him: "Until recently, I was still a completely normal two and a half meter tall bird that can speak."

Dolls are immortal, humans are not. Spinney developed a movement disorder in old age, but still lived to see the 50th anniversary of the very first Sesame Street episode in early November. The great puppeteer Caroll Spinney, 85, died on Sunday in Woodstock.