Big Bird, who's now portrayed by Spinney's successor Matt Vogel, didn't talk to reporters at last night's red carpet for the Kennedy Center Honors taking place hours after the longtime Sesame Street puppeteer's death Sunday at age 85. Sesame Street was being celebrated as the Kennedy Center Honors' first-ever TV show honoree. Turns out Big Bird doesn't do red carpet interviews. Sonia Manzano, who played Maria on Sesame Street for 44 years until retiring in 2015, was among those paying tribute. “I am just stunned that this happened, and on this particular day,” she said. “I think that a sweeter man was never born.” The Kennedy Center Honors will air on CBS on Dec. 15. ALSO: Nine times Big Bird helped us become better people.