Big Bird - Friday, October 30, 2015

If you read the heading for today's blog, you know already that we are going to talk a little bit about Big Bird - Caroll Spinney's much-loved creation who has lived on Sesame Street and inspired laughter and learning in children of all ages for closing in on five decades now.  We were inspired to honor him because of one of the more unusual artifacts on display in the Toy Box, here at the American Treasure Tour:  a model airplane hanging near the collection of Joan Fey artwork.  As you can see in the image included here, Big Bird is actually flying the plane (don't worry, we think he got his pilot's license during the early-1970's, while the United States was still fighting the Vietnam War), but there are a few odd things about the plane itself.  For one, his name is printed upside down.  For another, the wheel spats are all crazy. That makes it all the more fun and I, for one, would gladly let him fly me around.  He is, after all is said and done, a bird.  And all birds know how to fly (it's just some, like the emu and ostrich, choose not to).  

Through the years since his 1969 birth, Big Bird has evolved from being rather simple-minded to being innocent.  He was originally regarded by the writers of Sesame Street as being simple and a little dim-witted, but has evolved into a beloved innocent who is perpetually six years old.  Spinney is currently 81 years-old and continues to perform as Big Bird.  The costume has been described as incredibly hot and complicated, with no eye holes to help with direction, but rather a small television monitor strapped to the puppeteer's chest.
QUESTION:  Carroll Spinney performs what other character on Sesame Street along with Big Bird?
A)  Bert
B)  Kermit
C)  Grover
D)  Oscar

GROVER'S MILL.  In honor of tomorrow's celebrations of candy and costumes, as well as a favorite Muppet on Sesame Street, we would like to honor a famous radio broadcast that occurred on this day in 1938 produced by the young but ambitious Orson Welles.  It was his interpretation of the famous H.G. Wells science fiction story, "War of the Worlds," a classic tale of invasion by aliens into the quiet town of Grover's Mill, New Jersey.  Although commercial breaks interrupted the story numerous times throughout the broadcast, there were people who famously took it seriously.  In the days, weeks and months leading up to American involvement in World War II, international tensions were extremely high.  Now, they were interstellar tensions....

NEVER TOO LATE FOR FAME.  Today is Ruth Gordon's birthday.  She was born in 1896 and first stepped foot on a stage at the age of nineteen, acting as an extra in her first silent film in 1915.  Although she acted on- and off-camera for decades after that, while also writing screenplays, she was in her seventies when she won her Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1968's Rosemary's Baby.  She also famously played the character of Maude in the dark comedy Harold & Maude three years later.  Gordon remained vivacious to the end, a wonderful example that growing old can be a wonderful thing.  She was 88 when she passed away.

QUOTE:  The best impromptu speeches are the ones written well in advance. - Ruth Gordon

ANSWER:  D)  Oscar the Grouch.