Kermit puppeteer Steve Whitmire speaks out about why he was fired, Disney responds


Steve Whitmire, the puppeteer who voiced Muppet Kermit the Frog for 27 years, is giving more details about why he was fired from the position he had held since 1990.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Whitmire said he was let go by Disney in October. He said that he was told he would be “honored for his contributions” to the Muppets.

>> Read more trending news

The puppeteer previously said in a blog post that there were two issues that contributed to his exit, but had not said what those issues were.

“The first issue was that they felt I had been ‘disrespectful’ in being outspoken on character issues with the small group of top creative people during the ABC series,” Whitmire told THR. “I have been outspoken about what’s best for the Muppets since the Muppets came to Disney (in 2004), but the fact is I have respect for everyone who was involved in the creation of that series for their own particular contributions. At the same time, I also have insight into their limitations with respect to how well they know the Muppets.”

Related: Voice behind Kermit the Frog is leaving after 27 years

Whitmire said the second issue was tied to a union issue.

“The second issue was framed as ‘refusing to work on a particular project’ some 15 months earlier. I happened to get caught in the middle of a dispute on a contract classification between SAG-AFTRA and Disney Labor Relations which occurred while I was in-flight to work on the project and the associated commercial,” Whitmire said. “I did in fact shoot the commercial, but was unable to shoot the material for the project in order to comply with my obligations to the guild. Ironically in that situation, my rep had negotiated a special deal with the guild so that we could do the work within the budget parameters for the project.”

Related: Steve Whitmire, fired puppeteer behind Kermit the Frog, says he’s ‘devastated’

A spokesperson for the Muppets Studio said that Whitmire’s “unacceptable business conduct” over the years was to blame for his exit.

“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 said in a statement to THR. “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 was chosen by Jim Henson’s son, Brian, to be the voice of Kermit after Henson’s death in 1990. 

Matt Vogel was announced as replacement for Whitmire. 

“I’m actually responsible for Matt having become a part of the Disney Muppets,” Whitmire said. “The performers are my brothers, my family of choice. That includes Matt, and the hardest part of this is knowing we probably will never work together again. He’s very talented with the Muppets; he is already performing and he was chosen by Jerry Nelson prior to his death to carry Jerry’s characters forward.”

Nelson, who voiced a number of Muppets characters, including Count von Count, died in 2012.

Whitmire said that he will move on to other projects. 

Vogel will make his debut as Kermit in a “Muppet Thought of the Week” web video this week, according to a Muppets Studio spokeswoman.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation World

Springfield man accused of fighting with deputy
Springfield man accused of fighting with deputy

Clark County jailers alleged a man fought with deputies and wouldn’t obey their commands. Brooks Nawman, 33, was in the Clark County Jail on Sunday, July 23, on a charge of obstruction when he allegedly began kicking the window to his cell. CRIME: Springfield woman accused of driving drunk, crashing SUV with 4 kids “As Deputy Moses Young...
Must see: Infant photo shoot fit for Disney princesses
Must see: Infant photo shoot fit for Disney princesses

All little girls are princesses in their parents eyes when they’re born, but a California photographer has made the dream come true. Karen Marie of Belly Beautiful Portraits came up with the idea of dressing the newborns as Ariel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Belle and Jasmine, KCRA reported.
TSA ends testing, will not screen passengers’ books separately
TSA ends testing, will not screen passengers’ books separately

TSA officials will not screen and search books separate from luggage during security checks before passengers board planes at airports across the country. The agency announced the decision to end testing the practice at select airports at the end of June. Testing was being performed at two U.S. airports. >> Read more trending news Many people...
Clark County Pet of the Week
Clark County Pet of the Week

Meet Jimbo. He is an approximately 2-year-old mix who weighs 60 pounds. Jimbo is vaccinated, dewormed, neutered, rabies vaccinated, heartworm negative and microchipped. His adoption fee is $100 which includes his dog license. Jimbo is located at the Humane Society Serving Clark County, 5201 Urbana Road, in Springfield. Shelter hours are 1 to 7 p.m...
Moon’s interior could hold vast quantities of water – why is that good news? 
Moon’s interior could hold vast quantities of water – why is that good news? 

A group of Brown University scientists has discovered evidence suggesting the moon is hiding a lot more water than previously thought. The researchers studied layers of lunar rock samples containing tiny glass beads formed from magma inside the moon billions of years ago, trapping water inside them.  After examining satellite data to see where...
More Stories