Is Big Bird going away? On October 17, 2018, Spinney announced his full retirement from the character beginning the very same week as he planned to finish his final recordings on the following day. His final performance as Big Bird (and Oscar the Grouch) aired in 2019 for the series' landmark 50th anniversary. Caroll Spinney, the actor and puppeteer who portrayed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street over five decades, died Sunday at age 85. The Sesame Workshop said Spinney had died at home in Connecticut, and that he had long lived with dystonia, a disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions. Bye Big Bird .