On Sunday, Caroll Spinney, who played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on "Sesame Street," passed away at the age of 85. TV writer Bob Thompson phoned in to Boston Public Radio on Tuesday to commemorate the legacy of the actor and puppeteer.

"If you were to walk down the street and you had run into Caroll Spinney, you might’ve thought he was Santa Claus,” Thompson said.

"For half a century, he penetrated American culture — especially those big years in the 1970s and 1980s,” Thompson said.

Spinney was born in 1933 in Waltham, Mass., and graduated from Acton-Boxborough Regional High School. He first met “Sesame Street” creator Jim Henson at a puppeteer’s festival in 1969, and starred in the show’s inaugural episode a few months later.

Thompson went on to remember a particularly wholesome moment for the actor, when he joined “The Flip Wilson Show” in Big Bird attire, to perform a song and dance routine alongside another children’s television icon: Fred Rogers.

"The heavens must’ve sighed when the two of them were on the same stage together,” Thompson said.

Bob Thompson is a founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture and a trustee professor of television and popular culture at Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.