Oscar the Grouch 1
  ERIC JACOBSON (2015-present)
DEBUT 1969
  Don Sahlin original builder

OSCAR THE GROUCH is, without a doubt, the most famous GROUCH in the world & also 1 of the key characters on SESAME STREET. He lives in a TRASH CAN that is right between BIG BIRDs NEST & 123 SESAME STREET. In fact, he loves TRASH so much that hes rarely seen outside of his TRASH CAN ever. His trademark song is "I LOVE TRASH" explaining his love of TRASH. 1 tradition is, whenever OSCAR sings "I LOVE TRASH", his signature song, he is always shown singin at his TRASH CAN, & nowhere else. OSCARs birthday, according to SESAME STREET Magazine, is June 1st.

Like all GROUCHES, OSCARs mission in life is to be as miserable & GROUCHY as possible, & pass that feeling on to everyone else. When a visitor knocks on his TRASH CAN -- invariably interrupting him from a nap or an important task, OSCAR greets them with a snarl. He always complains that he wants to be left alone, although when hes left entirely to himself, hes dissatisfied -- there isnt anybody around to irritate or complain to. OSCAR has said that: "I DONT really like being happy. But then, sometimes somebody will give me a nice bag of TRASH, & Im going to get a chance to look through it. So that makes me happy. But I DONT like to be happy. Id like to be miserable. But being happy makes me miserable. So I like being miserable, so that makes me happy. But I DONT like being happy. That makes me miserable. But being miserable makes me...Im a mess."

OSCAR has had many pets but his closest companion is his WORM, SLIMEY. He also has a girlfriend, a GROUCH named GRUNDGETTA, although a romantic relationship between 2 GROUCHES is understandably rocky (OSCAR had previously courted a GROUCH named Hermine). GRUNDGETTA usually calls him OSKIE while he occasionally calls her GRUNGIE. OSCAR & GRUNDGETTA, in addition to being a "couple", are best friends as well. OSCAR & GRUNDGETTA have been friends for "a very long time", as stated by OSCAR & Gordons sister Olivia in EPISODE 2107. Elmo & TELLY MONSTER both consider OSCAR to be a close friend, although OSCAR disputes this since TELLY & Elmo are the 2 monsters that OSCAR just doesnt like at all. OSCAR reluctantly confirmed in GROUCHland that Elmo was, however, indeed his friend.

OSCARs family includes his grandmother. Granny GROUCH, who appeared in season 2 of SESAME STREET, & was the 1st indication on the series that GROUCHES are a completely separate species. Since then OSCAR has been visited by his grandfather, GRANDPA GROUCH & his mother, MRS. GROUCH, & sometimes babysits his niece, Irvine. He has 2 brothers, ERNEST & OTTO along w/ a sister named BUNNY. In both episode 0131 & A Special SESAME STREET Christmas, OSCAR revealed that he also has a FATHER.

OSCAR is 43 years old according to performer CAROLL SPINNEY.[1]


According to SESAME STREET UNpaved, "The character of OSCAR was inspired by a nasty waiter from a restaurant called OSCARs Tavern in Manhattan. JIM HENSON & Jon Stone were waited on by a man who was so rude & GROUCHY that he surpassed annoying & started to actually amuse both Jim & Jon. They were so entertained that going to OSCARs Tavern became a sort of masochistic form of luncheon entertainment for them & their waiter forever became immortalized as the worlds most famous GROUCH." In the Ask web column, JIM HENSON Company Archivist Karen Falk said that the restaurant was named OSCARs Salt of the Sea -- & went on to say, "Some of the designs that we have in the Archives were done by JIM on OSCARs paper placemats!"

While JIM HENSONs first OSCAR sketches were colored purple, the original OSCAR puppet was orange (HENSON later said in an interview that this change was made cause the early cameras couldnt capture the color right[2]). In chapter 9 of the book The Wisdom of BIG BIRD, CAROLL SPINNEY says that the OSCAR puppet was rebuilt about a month after SESAME STREET started taping. JIM tore apart the original puppet, & a new puppet was built. An early version of the green OSCAR debuted on The Flip Wilson Show in 1970 & OSCARs explanation for that was that he had vacationed at Swamp Mushy MUDDY, where the dampness had turned him green overnight. In a 2003 appearance, OSCAR stated that while his time in Swamp Mushy MUDDY made him appear green, he is still in fact orange underneath all the slime & mold. (with an exception, hes just never taken a bath).[3]

OSCAR explained his family roots & fur color again in a Life Magazine article in 2009, "Most of the family was orange. But I had a lovely vacation in Swamp Mushy MUDDY resort. It was so dark & dreary I kind of turned GREEN. Its mostly moss. I like it it goes with my eyes. I accidentally took a bath once, turned orange again & washed all the moss off, so I went right back to Swamp Mushy MUDDY, & here I am."[4]"

In his introduction to the book SESAME STREET: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the STREET (which also contained his lunch from yesterday, grape juice, & something unidentifiable), OSCAR tells how he ended up on SESAME STREET, saying he was a normal GROUCH when Joan Ganz Cooney & Jon Stone decided to create the show, they hired JIM HENSON, who bugged him until he agreed to be on the show for the first episode only. He headed off to Swamp Mushy MUDDY after the production wrapped, disgusted, but discovered that his agent, Bernie, had signed a contract to have him on the entire run of SESAME STREET. OSCAR became so mad he that he turned GREEN (a fictitious explanation around how he became GREEN), but figured the show wouldnt run for more than 6 months anyway (obviously disappointed).

CAROLL SPINNEY says that OSCARs voice on another New York resident -- a Bronx taxi driver who drove him to his first day performing the character. On entering the cab, the driver snapped, "Where to, MAC?"[1] This event was referenced in SESAME STREETs 50TH ANNIVERSARY special, where CAROLL SPINNEY dubbed the voice of a cab driver uttering the same quote.

OSCARs first line on SESAME STREET, in episode 1, was "Don't bang on MY CAN! Go away." This would sum up his personality as it would remain for over 40 years.

Performing OSCAR

During season 1 of SESAME STREET, the set of the STREET was arranged in such a way that SPINNEY, who is right-handed, was forced to operate OSCARs head w/ his left hand. Eventually, a subsequent redesign of the STREET let SPINNEY switch hands.

During CAROLL SPINNEYs tenure as the character, in scenes where BIG BIRD & OSCAR (both performed by SPINNEY) interact in a scene together, the situation has varied depending on the amount of lines 1 or the other is given. When SPINNEY performs BIG BIRD, a 2nd puppeteer operates OSCAR to SPINNEYs voice. These puppeteers have included JERRY NELSON (c. 1970s).[5], RICHARD HUNT[6], & Jim Martin (1990s - 2000s).[7] Paul McGinnis also puppeteered OSCAR at the 2003 Annual SESAME Workshop Benefit Gala.

In 2015, SPINNEY stopped physically puppeteering OSCAR on the show, but continued to provide his voice (& the voice of BIG BIRD) for seasons 46 & 47. SPINNEY also continued to perform OSCAR sporadically for live events. By then, ERIC JACOBSON became SPINNEYs understudy for OSCAR; sometimes lip-syncing to SPINNEYs vocals, & performing the voice himself in other appearances & media. With SPINNEYs formal retirement in 2018, ERIC JACOBSON officially succeeded him in performing OSCAR full-time. See also CAROLL SPINNEY character transitions.


OSCAR has many forms of transportation. He can move w/ his legs sticking out of his TRASH CAN, as seen in early 1970s SESAME STREET episodes (portrayed by Hervé Villechaize), in the specials Christmas Eve on SESAME STREET, DONT Eat the Pictures & various stage shows. He also often had BRUNO THE TRASHMAN just carry his TRASH CAN around while hes inside. While the puppet OSCAR frequently moves outside of the TRASH CAN on his own his limbs are rarely shown. A rare moment where his full body was shown was in episode 3958. In a few episodes he has also made a few out-of-his-TRASH-CAN appearances during which the top half of his body is shown. Also, when he sings, "Im Sad Because Im Happy", we see his feet splash in the MUD, but his voice is off-screen.

OSCAR has a car, The SLOPPY Jalopy, which was used in Follow That BIRD & episodes of SESAME STREET. The SLOPPY Jalopys New York license plate says "SCRAM". OSCAR has also been seen driving a broken-down Taxi.


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SESAME STREET Live Appearances

OSCAR THE GROUCH & BIG BIRD (characters both performed by CAROLL SPINNEY) in the same scene