Nfld. & Labrador

Oscar the Grouch actually made for 'happiest set' ever, says N.L. actor

The man behind iconic Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch is being fondly remembered by those who had a chance to work with him.

'Your childhood and reality just smashing together,' says Darryl Dinn

Darryl Dinn, right, worked with Caroll Spinney and Oscar the Grouch on set in Toronto in 2008. (Submitted by Darryl Dinn)

The man behind iconic Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch is being fondly remembered by those who had a chance to work with him.

Caroll Spinney, who operated the two Muppets characters for nearly 50 years, died Sunday at 85.

Darryl Dinn, originally from Labrador City, worked with Spinney as Oscar back in 2008, filming a public-service announcement for Waste Reduction Week in Toronto.

While Oscar may be a grouch, Dinn said Spinney was anything but.

"When we were filming between takes, Carroll as Oscar would go, 'I'm watching you, Darryl.' And that's basically your childhood and reality just smashing together, because like most, we just all grew up on Sesame Street," Dinn said.

Dinn says it was surreal to work with Oscar the Grouch. (Submitted by Darryl Dinn)

"To be a part of it is just very special."

The set that day had an atmosphere of fun, Dinn said, much because of Spinney.

"A lot of these puppeteers, they're a mischievous bunch. They're just fun and playful and just — they're big kids, and it's nice to be in on that," said Dinn.

"It was the happiest set I was ever on because, again, that's a show that no matter your background, you watched Sesame Street at some point in your life."

Oscar the Grouch, in true Oscar style, gives Dinn's tie a yank. (Submitted by Darryl Dinn)

Spinney was the man behind two iconic Muppets, but Dinn said he was so engrossed working with Oscar he totally forgot about Big Bird.

"Being on set, not once did it ever dawn on me to ask to hear Big Bird's voice. Because all day it was about Oscar and it just totally slipped my mind to even just close my eyes and to ask to hear Big Bird," Dinn said.

"That's probably my only regret from that day, it just never dawned on me."

How does Oscar the Grouch travel? In a massive crate with the Sesame Street logo on the side. (Submitted by Darryl Dinn)

When they finished shooting, Dinn said Spinney autographed stuffed toys as Oscar for each of the cast and crew members — a memento he keeps on display in his living room to this day.

Dinn said it's a fond memory that he will treasure for a long time.

"That scene is just me and him in an office and Oscar is just staring at me and I'm talking to him," Dinn said.

"It was fun. I'm very grateful for it."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show

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