Interview: Dave LaMattina and Chad N. Walker on I Am Big Bird

iabbDocumentarians Dave LaMattina and Chad N. Walker spent five years unfurling the life of the man behind one of the most famous figures of modern culture: Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who has played Big Bird on Sesame Street since 1969 (portions of this interview originally appeared at

Richard Whittaker: Everyone knows Big Bird, but how did you even become aware of Caroll?

Dave LaMattina: In 2005, I was interning at Sesame Workshop, because I wanted to go into family entertainment, and it was the pinnacle of place you could be for that. Great internship, and then a year or two later I was telling a friend about the various internships I’d had, and I said something about Sesame Street, and she said, oh, I’m actually family friends with Caroll Spinney. I didn’t know who that was, and thought Carroll was a woman, and she proceeded to tell me that he’s a man, and he’s been Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since 1969.

So Chad were emailing, as we are want to do, and we were kicking around some doc ideas, and that came up and we couldn’t really let go of of it. We reached out to Sesame, thinking this would be a lot of red tape. and I think within a week we had a meeting set up with Carroll.

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