Voice of Kermit The Frog, Steve Whitmire, Fired After 27 Years
Steve Whitmire, the voice of Kermit the Frog for the last 27 years, was fired.
Whitmire took over the role when Kermit’s creator, Jim Henson, died unexpectedly in 1990.
According to Whitmire, that “drastic action” was not his decision. “I am devastated to have failed in my duty to my hero,” he wrote in a blog post this week.
He also said he was let go against his will, and would never have left voluntarily.
“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,” wrote the puppeteer, who has also voiced Rizzo the Rat, Beaker and other Muppets characters. “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 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.”
“I have remained silent the last nine months in hopes that the Disney company might reverse their course,” Whitmire added. “Given the opportunity I remain willing to do whatever is required to remedy their concerns because I feel my continued involvement with the characters is in the best interest of the Muppets.”
Children’s TV shows have survived changes in key cast members before, most notably when Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash resigned from “Sesame Street” in 2012 amid allegations that he sexually abused underage boys. Elmo is now performed by Ryan Dillon.
For Whitmire, the Muppets “are not just a job, or a career, or even a passion. They are a calling, an urgent, undeniable, impossible to resist way of life,” he said.
Muppets Studio said in a statement that it “thanks Steve for his tremendous contributions to Kermit the Frog and the Muppets franchise. We wish him well in his future endeavors.” They didn’t reveal any reasons as to why Whitaker was let go.