‘I am Big Bird’ Makes its Big Island Debut Friday

July 2, 2015, 5:16 PM HST
* Updated September 8, 6:21 PM
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Who is Big Bird?

If you’ve ever wondered the answer to that question, then the Palace Theater on Friday, July 3 is the place to be.

“I am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story,” presented by Tribeca Film and Copper Pot Pictures, will be screened on the Big Island for the first time Friday night at 7 p.m. Showings will follow each of the next four days at the same time. A special matinee showing will play at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Spinney has played the famous roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on the hit show “Sesame Street” for the past 40 years.

Dave LaMattina and Chad Walker, both producing and directing the film, strategically weave in interviews with notable people close to Spinney. Footage from Spinney’s personal life is also intricately placed to draw viewers into the behind-the-scenes life of the face behind Big Bird. Footage of his work on Sesame Street is worked in to create a strong and impression-leaving memory of the last puppeteer to be a part of the show.


Funding for the movie largely came from a kickstarter campaign that brought in over $124,114, way over the intended goal of $100,000. The money helped to jumpstart the project, pasted together through thousands of photos and hundreds of hours of footage of Spinney’s life.


An underlying theme throughout the film is Spinney’s strong sense of love, not only for his wife Deborah, but also for those who worked in close proximity and millions touched by Big Bird.

For over 40 years, the character of Big Bird has transformed Spinney into the man he is, while transforming the world around him. The film uses current-day interviews with Matt Vogel, an apprentice of Spinney’s over 20-years ago, Frank Oz, perhaps better known as Cookie Monster and Bert, and the late Jerry Nelson, who played the role of The Count.

Another notable interview included in the film is of Jane Henson, the wife of Big Bird creator Jim Henson, one of her last before she passed away in 2013. Jane provided deep insight into the vision of what her husband saw in Spinney.


Spinney has been awarded numerous awards and honors for his work on Sesame Street, including four Daytime Emmys, two Grammys, a Library of Congress Living Legend award, and even a 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Palace Theater movies cost $8 for general admission and $7 for seniors and students.


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