Disney Claims “Unacceptable Business Conduct” In Firing Of Kermit Voice Steve Whitmire
Disney has claimed their reason for firing Steve Whitmire, the 27-year voice of The Muppets‘ Kermit the Frog, was related to “unacceptable business conduct.”
“The role of Kermit the Frog is an iconic one that is beloved by fans and we take our responsibility to protect the integrity of that character very seriously,” a spokesperson for The Muppets Studio told The Hollywood Reporter.
The statement continued, “We raised concerns about Steve’s repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years and he consistently failed to address the feedback. The decision to part ways was a difficult one which was made in consultation with the Henson family and has their full support.”
Whitmire began to voice The Muppets most celebrated character after the show’s creator Jim Henson died in 1990. Whitmire began working with Henson in 1978 and was at the hospital with the franchise’s creator when he died unexpectedly.
The voice actor has had a different view of his termination, saying that Disney, who got the right’s to Henson’s franchise in 2004, doesn’t have a valid reason behind their action.
Nonetheless, Whitmire, at his own admission, often gave notes on his character, which may have ruffled some feathers up top.
“We have been doing these characters for a long, long time and we know them better than anybody. I thought I was aiding to keep it on track and I think a big reason why the show was canceled was because that didn’t happen,” Whitmire told The Hollywood Reporter. “I am not saying my notes would have saved it, but I think had they listened more to all of the performers, it would have made a really big difference.”
Whitmire was fired in October, although the news didn’t break until over the weekend. At first, The Muppets Studio didn’t say much about the termination. They gave their thanks to Steve “for his tremendous contributions to Kermit the Frog and the Muppets franchise.” Adding, “We wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Matt Vogel, who has been with Sesame Street since 1996, will be the new voice of Kermit starting next week.