New documentary tells the story of Caroll Spinney, the man inside Big Bird.
If hope is the thing with feathers, as Emily Dickinson wrote, Caroll Spinney is one of the most hopeful creatures on the planet.
Since 1969 Spinney has embodied Sesame Street's Big Bird-- all six-thousand feathers of him-- infusing him with a gentleness that has made the giant yellow fowl one of the most popular characters in children's entertainment. Everyone knows Big Bird; now Spinney's story is being told in the documentary "I Am Big Bird: The Carol Spinney Story."
Spinney overcame a childhood of abuse and bullying, maintaining a sunny disposition that is an inseparable part of Big Bird's identity. The puppeteer, now 81, continues to perform as Big Bird, and as another Sesame Street favorite, Oscar the Grouch.
Dave LaMattina and Chad N. Walker produced and directed the film, which the New York Times praises as "forthright and engaging throughout."
The film is now available on demand, and is playing at IFC Center in New York. It opens in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadephia Boston, Seattle and other cities next week.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.