It certainly ain’t easy being green. But, for recently ousted Henson Company puppeteer Steve Whitmire, it’s equally tough to not be green anymore. Whitmire, who voiced Kermit the Frog for 27 years, was recently fired by the Disney under mysterious circumstances, wrote yesterday in a blog post that he was “devastated” by the decision.
Disney’s Muppet Studios released a statement wishing Whitmire well “in his future endeavors,” but the Muppeteer gave no indication the decision was mutual. In an emotional post on his blog, Whitmire wrote: “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.”
Whitmire has been a part of the Muppets team since he was 19, working as a Muppeteer for 11 years before having the famous frog bestowed upon him by Jim Henson’s son. As Whitmire describes it: “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 way of life. This is my life’s work.”
Whitmire’s started puppeteering when he was only 10-years-old, when he started consuming every episode of The Muppets Show, sewing a closet’s worth of puppets with his mother, and even writing letters to Henson himself. From there, he worked as a puppeteer for local productions in his native Atlanta before joining the Henson Company.
The reasons for Whitmire’s firing have not been disclosed. But according to Whitmire’s post, the split was the result of “two stated issues which had never been mentioned to me prior to that phone call.” Kermit will now be in the hands of Henson veteran Matt Vogel, and marks the first instance of the famous frog changing hands after the passing of Jim Henson.