Richest CelebritiesActors
Net Worth:
$8 Million
$2 Million
Dec 26, 1933 - Dec 8, 2019 (85 years old)
Actor, Puppeteer, Comedian, Voice Actor
United States of America
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What was Caroll Spinney's net worth and salary?

Caroll Spinney was an American puppeteer and cartoonist who had a net worth of $8 million at the time of his death in 2019. Caroll Spinney was most famous for playing the characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on the television series "Sesame Street."

Spinney met Jim Henson at a puppeteering festival in 1962. He joined Sesame Street for its inaugural season in 1969. At one point he almost left the show because he was not getting paid enough. Spinney won a Grammy Award in 1971 for Best Recording for Children for Sesame Street. He also won a News & Documentary Emmy Award for Sesame Street in 1974. Spinney won five Daytime Emmy Awards for Sesame Street, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. In 1994 he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.

Early Life

Spinney was born on December 26, 1933 in Waltham, Massachusetts to parents Chester and Margaret Spinney. He grew up with his two older brothers Bruce and Glenn. Growing up, he enjoyed painting and drawing and also developed a love of puppeteering after seeing a performance of "Three Little Kittens" at the age of five. This motivated him to purchase a monkey puppet from a rummage sale a few years later and begin developing his own puppet shows. He was later gifted a Punch and Judy puppet theater by his mother. Throughout his teen years, he continued performing and raised money for college tuition. After he graduated from Acton High School, he served in the U.S. Air Force.


While in the Air Force, Spinney wrote and illustrated "Harvey," a comic strip about military life. He also animated a series of black-and-white cartoons called "Crazy Crayon." In 1955, following his time in the service, Spinney moved to Las Vegas where he performed in the show "Rascal Rabbit." He returned to Boston in 1958 to join "The Judy and Goggle Show" as a puppeteer. Throughout the 1960s, he performed on the Boston broadcast of "Bozo's Big Top," where he played various costumed characters which included Flip Flop the Rag Doll, Mr. Rabbit, Kookie the Boxing Kangaroo, and Mr. Lion. During this time, he was also working as a commercial artist and animator. He also created a puppet duo consisting of two cats named Picklepuss and Pop which he utilized throughout the 1960s.

In 1962, Spinney first met Jim Henson, another puppeteer who was working on the Muppets, at a puppeteering festival. At that time, Hensen attempted to engage Spinney in a conversation about the Muppets, which Spinney failed to realize was an opportunity to potentially land a job working on the Muppets. Later, in 1969, Spinney performed at a Puppeteers of America festival in Utah. Hensen was in attendance and after the show asked Spinney again about the Muppets. This time, Spinney realized a possible job opportunity was on the table. The conversation went well and Spinney joined the Muppeteers full-time by late 1969.

He also joined "Sesame Street" for the inaugural season in 1969. He nearly left after the first season because he was not getting acceptable pay but Kermit Love persuaded him to stay. He performed as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch in Australia, China, Japan, and across Europe. He also played those characters with orchestras across the U.S. and Canada, including the Boston Pops. He visited the White House multiple times while in character and provided the characters' voices on dozens of albums.

Caroll Spinney net worth

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In the character of Oscar, Spinney wrote "How to Be a Grouch," a picture book. He also wrote the 2003 book "The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from a Life in Feathers" along with J. Milligan. He narrated the audiobook "Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street" by Michael Davis. His work has been studied by other puppeteers who have structured their own performance style after his, especially by adopting full-body puppet costumes.

Though Spinney primarily performed as Big Bird and Oscar, he also performed as a number of other characters. At one point, he created Bruno the Trashman, a full-bodied puppet that represented a garbage man who carried Oscar's trash can. He also performed as Granny Bird, Big Bird's grandmother. In October of 2018, Spinney officially announced his retirement from "Sesame Street" after 49 years. His last performances as Big Bird and Oscar were recorded as part of the series' landmark 50th season which aired in 2020. The roles of Big Bird and Oscar were handed over to Matt Vogel and Eric Jacobson.

Personal Life and Death

In 1960, Spinney married Janice Spinney. The couple had three children together. They divorced in 1971. Spinney then married Debra Jean Gilroy in 1979. They remained married until Spinney's death. In 2015, Spinney was diagnosed with dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that causes muscle contractions. On November 8, 2019, Spinney and Big Bird, played by Matt Vogel, participated in a lighting ceremony which was dubbed "Caroll Spinney Day" in New York City by mayoral proclamation.

On December 8, 2019, Spinney died at his home in Woodstock, Connecticut at the age of 85. He was surrounded by his wife Debra and his three children.

Connecticut Property

In February 1999 Caroll paid $32,000 for a 7-acre wooded property in Woodstock, Connecticut. Over time he built multiple structures including a 4,300 square foot main house.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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