I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story

Deb Spinney with Big Bird legs

Debi in Big Bird's legs.


Debi's Sesamstrasse appearance, as depicted by Caroll.

Debra Spinney (née, Deborah Jean Gilroy,[1][2] often referred to as Debi) is a former staffer of the Children's Television Workshop, and the wife and manager of Muppet Performer Caroll Spinney. She is credited as "For Big Bird," along with Kermit Love, in Big Bird in China.

She appeared in on-screen, together with Jon Stone and Kermit Love, in episode 750 of Sesamstrasse in 1981, as revealed in a comic strip by Caroll. She has also made cameos in other Sesame Street episodes and productions.

Debra has also occasionally done some background and assistant performing in various productions. She played Big Bird's legs in a scene in Episode 1319 where Caroll was playing Oscar.[3] In a reversal, Debra puppeteered Oscar during the Sesame Street cast's performance at the 1982 Daytime Emmy Awards, while Caroll was in the Big Bird puppet.[4] Below the frame, she puppeteered Simon Soundman during the "Carol Sing" in A Muppet Family Christmas.[5]


  • Episode 3609 of Sesame Street references Caroll's proposal to Debi. Oscar, planning on proposing to Grundgetta as a gag, recites Caroll's proposal verbatim ("You will marry me, won't you?") as he practices.[6]

See also


  1. The New York Times: PUBLIC LIVES; 30 Happy Years as an 8-Foot-Tall Yellow Bird, November 11, 1998.
  2. Vanity Fair: Caroll Spinney, Sesame Street Puppeteer, Dies at Age 85, December 8, 2019.
  3. I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story audio commentary at 29:27
  4. "Gen Con: 5 things you didn't know about Sesame Street's Big Bird", IndyStar. com, August 4, 2018.
  5. Home video footage recorded by the Spinneys, later incorporated in "Jim Henson: Behind the Seams" screening at the Museum of the Moving Image
  6. The Wisdom of Big Bird, page 112
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