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In reply to: Original Big Bird, Caroll Spinney, Leaves ‘Sesame Street’ After Nearly 50 Years - The New York Times

[…]Spinney said, he was originally asked to play as a funny, dumb country yokel.”

After a few episodes, Spinney made a suggestion to the show’s producers. I said, I think I should play him like he’s a child, a surrogate,” he recalled. He can be all the things that children are. He can learn with the kids.”

That had a lasting effect on Big Bird and on Sesame Street,” where the character came to embody the tender, nurturing soul of the show.