Caroll Spinney, the man who once played two popular characters of the long-running children’s television program “Sesame Street,” died on Sunday at his home in Connecticut. The puppeteer, author, and cartoonist, who played as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch in the series, was 85-years-old.

The Sesame Workshop officially announced the sad news in a statement. It also mentioned that Spinney was suffering from dystonia, a disorder that causes muscles to contract involuntarily, according to Daily Mail.

“Caroll was an artistic genius whose kind and loving view of the world helped shape and define Sesame Street from its earliest days in 1969 through five decades, and his legacy here at Sesame Workshop and in the cultural firmament will be unending,” the Sesame Workshop said in the statement.

Spinney joined “Sesame Street” since it started in 1969. He played as Big Bird in the series, which was physically challenging for the 5 feet 10 inch-puppeteer since the bird measures 8 feet tall, according to Buzz Feed.

At the same time, he also played as Oscar the Grouch since the character’s creation in 1969. Oscar is reportedly modeled after a New York taxi driver and a rude waiter he once met.

Spinney went on to play the two popular characters for almost fifty years. He quit from being Big Bird and Oscar upon his retirement from “Sesame Street” in 2018.

The puppeteer revealed who playing as the popular bird changed his life. “Before I came to Sesame Street, I didn’t feel like what I was doing was very important,” Spinney said when he retired. “Big Bird helped me find my purpose.”

For Spinney, Oscar and Big Bird will forever remain a part of his life even after he ceased playing the roles on television. “Even as I step down from my roles, I feel I will always be Big Bird,” the puppeteer said. “And even Oscar, once in a while! They have given me great joy, led me to my true calling – and my wonderful wife! – and created a lifetime of memories that I will cherish forever”

Fans of the show took to social media to express their sadness over Spinney’s passing and to show their appreciation for the positive impact he had on their childhood. “Caroll has really been a huge part of my childhood. He has made my day in every imaginable way, whether he was under the feathers or inside the trash can. He has and always will be an idol. Thank you for everything, Caroll,” Twitter user Simon A posted on the platform.