Hunt was born in The Bronx, New York City on August 16, 1951, the second of five children. The family eventually moved to Closter, New Jersey some years later.
Because everyone in his family had worked in show business at some point, Hunt always felt he would end up in entertainment as well. While in middle school and high school, he put on puppet shows for local children, and he was a fan of the then-fledgling Muppets from a young age. After high school graduation and a four-month stint of doing weather reports at a local radio station, Hunt pursued a meeting with Jim Henson.
After being hired to work on Sesame Street, Hunt mostly performed background characters in early specials. One of his first major performances was as Taminella Grinderfall in The Frog Prince, puppeteering the character while Jerry Juhl performed the voice. In Thomas & Friends he voiced James the Red Engine for two seasons.
He also did Scooter and shared Miss Piggy with Frank Oz until the final quarter of the first season of The Muppet Show. Hunt performed many characters on Sesame Street, including Forgetful Jones, Placido Flamingo, Don Music, Gladys the Cow, Sully, and an early version of Elmo. On Fraggle Rock, Hunt's main role was the performing the facial expressions and voice of Junior Gorg, but he also performed Gunge (one of the Trash Heap's barkers), and several one-shot or minor characters.
He has also directed several home videos such as Sing-Along, Dance-Along, Do-Along and Elmo's Sing-Along Guessing Game, as well as an episode of Fraggle Rock.
Hunt was good friends with fellow puppeteer Jerry Nelson. A lot of their characters were paired together such as Nelson's Floyd Pepper with Hunt's Janice, and Nelson's Pa Gorg to Hunt's Junior Gorg on Fraggle Rock. On Fraggle Rock, Hunt's characters were often paired with those performed by Steve Whitmire.
Hunt was openly gay. When Rudolf Nureyev who was also openly gay made a guest appearance on The Muppet Show, Nureyev rather bluntly hit on Hunt. Hunt was close friends with Star Wars actor Mark Hamill.
Hunt died of AIDS-related complications on January 7, 1992 at the age of 40. Episode 3136 of Sesame Street and The Muppet Christmas Carol were dedicated to his memory. Following his passing, his roles were taken over by David Rudman, Steve Whitmire and Jerry Nelson.
The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from a Life in Feathers by Caroll Spinney and Jason Milligan
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Villard; 1st edition (April 29, 2003)
Amazon: The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from a Life in Feathers
Amazon Kindle: The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from a Life in Feathers
An inspiring message for all ages: Find your inner bird.
If you’re looking for wisdom and joy in your life, go straight to Sesame Street and heed the words of its most beloved and profound resident, Caroll Spinney, who has spent the past thirty-four years in a bird costume (and a trash can) as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.
Three decades inside a giant puppet have taught Spinney a valuable and surprising lesson:
Being a bird can make you a better person.
In The Wisdom of Big Bird, the living legend of Sesame Street describes how we can all find our inner bird (or grouch).
Each chapter illustrates a piece of useful wisdom Spinney has gleaned from a career in feathers. The lessons Big Bird teaches children every day on Sesame Street are the same ones that have brought Spinney success and satisfaction in his own life.
Warm, witty, and affirming, Caroll Spinney’s memoir proves that being a bird can make you a better and happier person.
“Every day on Sesame Street, we strive to give our innocent young audience the basis of a lifelong education. It is no accident that spending the past thirty-four years in the Bird suit teaching these lessons to others has taught me a few things, too.”—from The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch)
More LGBT History at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Gay Classics
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