Steve Whitmire, the longtime voice actor and puppeteer of Kermit the Frog, has revealed that Disney fired him. On Monday, a Muppets fan-site passed along the news that Whitmire had supposedly stepped down as the performer of the world’s most famous amphibian and was being replaced by veteran puppeteer Matt Vogel – who has been performing such characters as Robin the Frog and Camilla the Chicken for The Muppets Studio as well as Count von Count for Sesame Street. That same day, a Muppets Studio spokesperson did confirm that Vogel would be replacing Whitmire as Kermit’s performer, though they didn’t provide any details about the latter's departure.
However, on Thursday, Whitmire started a brand-new blog so that he could tell his side of the story. In his first and only post, so far, Whitmire reveals that he was let go nine months ago and remained silent on the matter up until now because he had hoped “the Disney company might reverse their course.”
Whitmire continued to detail certain aspects of what happened in a lengthy and heartfelt post. Here is a portion of what Whitmire had to say:
“As I am sure you can imagine, I have experienced every possible emotion since October 2016, when I received a phone call from The Muppets Studio’s executives to say they were recasting. Through a new business representative, I have offered multiple remedies to their two stated issues which had never been mentioned to me prior to that phone call. I wish that we could have sat down, looked each other in the eye, and discussed what was on their minds before they took such a drastic action.”
Whitmire began performing as a puppeteer in high school and joined The Muppet Show in 1978. While working alongside Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, and Dave Goelz, Whitmire learned as much as he could from the puppeteering legends, honing his craft. Over the years, he performed a variety of characters on The Muppet Show. Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock series. And when Kermit’s original performer, Jim Henson, passed away in 1990, Whitmire was asked a few weeks later by Jim’s son Brian to take on the character. Now, at 57-years-old, it is clearly difficult to be forced to relinquish it.
“I feel that I am at the top of my game, and I want all of you who love the Muppets to know that I would never consider abandoning Kermit or any of the others because to do so would be to forsake the assignment entrusted to me by Jim Henson, my friend and mentor, but even more, my hero.”
Whitmire concludes his post with a heartbreaking apology:
“I just want you all to know that I am sorry if I have disappointed any of you at any point throughout our journey, and to let everyone know that I am devastated to have failed in my duty to my hero.”
Responding to Whitmire’s comments, The Muppets Studio issued a statement (via Deadline):
“The Muppets Studio thanks Steve for his tremendous contributions to Kermit the Frog and The Muppets franchise. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Vogel’s debut as Kermit is expected to come next week in the latest installment of the “Muppets Thought of the Week” video series.
Source: Steve Whitmire