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

Hurricane Maria: Live updates
Hurricane Maria: Live updates

Hurricane Maria continues to churn in the Atlantic Ocean. The deadly storm has claimed lives on multiple islands in its path. >> Read more trending news 
People with this face shape are more likely to cheat, study suggests
People with this face shape are more likely to cheat, study suggests

Can you predict a person’s sexual drive and likelihood to cheat just by looking at them? You might. Those with wider dimensions are more likely to cheat, according to a new report. Researchers from universities in Canada recently conducted two experiments, which were published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, to determine the link...
Mexico earthquake: 'Frida Sofia,' girl supposedly trapped in rubble, never existed, officials say
Mexico earthquake: 'Frida Sofia,' girl supposedly trapped in rubble, never existed, officials say

As rescue workers tirelessly searched and the world waited breathlessly for them to find a 12-year-old girl believed to be trapped under the rubble of a caved-in school toppled by the devastating earthquake in Mexico City, it became apparent that the little girl never existed, Mexican officials said. According to the New York Post...
Laughing gas through labor? More hospitals offering nitrous oxide for moms-to-be
Laughing gas through labor? More hospitals offering nitrous oxide for moms-to-be

Seton Medical Center in Austin, Texas, has just added to a handful of its labor and delivery rooms something you might think of as only being used at the dentist’s office: nitrous oxide aka laughing gas. Why? Moms in labor in Europe have been using laughing gas for decades, and it’s recently gaining favor in the U.S., especially in...
Baby whose mom gave up cancer treatment also dies
Baby whose mom gave up cancer treatment also dies

The baby girl born to a mother who gave up cancer treatment to save her has died, the family announced in a Facebook post. Life Lynn DeKlyen was born on Sept. 6 at 24 weeks in Ann Arbor, Michigan, weighing just 1 pound, 7 ounces. Her family said in a Facebook post they are shattered over the loss. Life Lynn’s mother, Carrie, was diagnosed...
More Stories