Steve Whitmire, the voice actor behind Kermit the Frog for the last 27 years, claims he was fired by Disney with an unexpected phone call last October. The longtime Muppeteer broke his silence in a blog post two days after Matt Vogel was announced as his successor.
“For me the Muppets are not just a job, or a career, or even a passion,” Whitmire, 57, wrote on the site SteveWhitmire-MuppetPundit.com. “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.”
He continued, “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. 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 that 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.”
A spokesperson for the Muppets Studio could not comment on Whitmire’s claims, but offered a statement: “The Muppets Studio thanks Steve for his tremendous contributions to Kermit the Frog and The Muppets franchise. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Whitmire began voicing Kermit after the death of Jim Henson in 1990. Now, Vogel will make his debut as the muppet in a “Muppets Thought of the Week” video coming next week.
“I have remained silent the last nine months in hopes that the Disney company might reverse their course,” Whitmire added. “Doing what is best for the Muppets is the lens through which all my interactions have been filtered. 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.”
Read his full blog post here.
This article was updated with a statement from the Muppets Studio.