He is green, he lives in a bin and he always wakes up on the wrong side of the bed.
His name is Oscar the Grouch, and even people who saw "Sesame Street" as children might find it a bit confusing. Why is he green? How did he choose his home? And why is he in such a bad mood?
The answer lies with Caroll Spinney, the performer behind the roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, who announced his retirement from the show on Monday after nearly 50 years. (Fellow puppeteer Eric Jacobson, who plays Miss Piggy, will take the reins from Grover and Bert.)
Spinney was introduced to the characters when "Sesame Street" creator Jim Henson called him in the early 1960s.
[Henson] said, "Why do not you come to New York and talk about the Muppets?" "Spinney told NPR 2003." I have some characters that I want to build. One is a big, funny-looking bird, and the other will be that grouchy character who will live in a garbage heap in the gutter. "
After Oscar, the Grouch was born as that grumpy Muppet – though, originally, he was orange – Spinney had to give him a voice.
" I'd never made a character like Oscar, and I did not feel like it "That my voice sounded like the Muppets I was used to," Spinney wrote his book, "The Wisdom of the Great Bird."
He looked into the streets of New York City for inspiration and found the Bronx taxi driver
"He was the stereotypical taxi driver of the time – a guy in his forties from the Bronx who wore a tweed cap with a small brim – and somehow growled out of the corner of his mouth," Where, Mac? " "Spinney wrote." Who could be more than a taxi driver from the Bronx? I had my ideal model for my new character.
The purpose of Oscar, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History description of the character, is to teach "the meaning of understanding, tolerance and diversity." According to Robert W. Morrow's book "& # 39; Sesame Street & # 39; and the reform of children 's television, Oscar. www.mjfriendship.de/de/index.php?op…80&Itemid=58 Anders acted and lived in a different kind of homeland as a metaphor, "to dramatize tolerance for the other. English: www.mjfriendship.de/en/index.php?op…01&Itemid=37. In an adventure about conflicts between Oscar and the others on the street, the show taught children how to deal with diversity in the context of diversity.
Despite the admirable intentions behind the character, Spinney originally thought he might not be suitable for children.
"I did this in the early days of the & # 39; Sesame Street & # 39; questioned. Why is Oscar? He's such a disagreeable and even seemingly rude character, "he said to HuffPost." One producer said, "Well, I think it takes all kinds of things to make a world, and it's just another way."  But in the end Spinney found that Oscar always had a heart. Although he would complain, he still helped those in need – he only did it while grumbling. For example, as his human friend Maria He needed a bolt to fix a car. Oscar rummaged through his dustbin to find one, but not before murmuring, "Man, another lousy day." As grumpy as he was, he would always have a hungry child eat before he did, "wrote Spinney.
The character turned out to be a huge hit, sometimes complaining to famous musicians like Johnny Cash and Billy Joel, and the character produced several versions around the world: his cousin Moishe Oofnik appears in Israel, lives in an old car, in Turkey he is called Kirpik and lives in a basket, in Pakistan he is Akhtar, and his home is an old oil barrel.
He even dives on a number of other popular shows, such as "Scrubs," "The Simpsons," and "South Park. "
Oscar may be a celebrity worldwide, but for Spinney, he's just the bastard trying to hide his heart out of gold.
Spinney admitted that Oscar" doesn & # 39; I think so, as I think, but that's what made the character so special to him.
"I am dealing with a mental entity that I am not, although I enable it," Spinney wrote. "Oscar has taught me the power of the puppet."
"And I say that," he continued. "After playing Big Bird all day, switching to Oscar is just therapeutic to live with the opposite attitude to life for a while."