The puppeteer who was the voice of Kermit the Frog for 27 years has been fired by Disney. On Thursday, Steve Whitmire, who took over the job after Jim Henson died in 1990, posted a heartfelt message saying he feels “devastated to have failed.”
In a blog post titled the “Muppet Pundit,” he told his fans how special the job was to him. “For me, the Muppets are not just a job, or a career, or even a passion. They are a calling, an urgent, undeniable, impossible to resist the way of life," he wrote. “This is my life’s work since I was 19 years old. 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.”
According to Whitmire, he learned changes were going to be made to the cast in October 2016, and had offered “multiple remedies” to resolve any issues. He said he wished the company had talked with him before making any drastic changes.
In his blog post, Whitmire didn’t give the reasons he was fired but said there were “two stated issues and concerns” raised by executives at the Muppets Studio.
After receiving the news, he remained silent about Disney’s decision in the hope they would change their minds.
Steve Whitmire has worked with the Muppets since 1978, when he got his start on "The Muppet Show.' In addition to Kermit, he was the voice of SErnie on "Sesame Street" and provided voices for characters on "Fraggle Rock."
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According to the Hollywood Reporter, longtime Muppets puppeteer Matt Vogel will take over as Kermit.
More than 350 people have left comments on Steve Whitmire's blog post since it was posted on July 11. Many are from fans who expressed sadness about the news and their dissatisfaction with Disney.
Disney executives have not discussed the reasons for firing Whitmire, but issued a statement thanking him and wishing him well.