It’s time to play the music. It’s time to light the lights. It’s time to meet the new voice of Kermit the Frog on The Muppet Show tonight. After 27 years of giving the world’s favorite amphibian his one-of-a-kind voice and wiggly-armed gesturing, puppeteer Steve Whitmire is being replaced by longtime show veteran Matt Vogel. Over the course of his career, Whitmore also provided the voice of several other big name characters for the Muppets and Sesame Street, including Ernie, Rizzo the Rat, and Beaker. The exact nature of Whitmire’s departure has not yet been made clear, with a Muppet Studio spokesperson simply confirming his exit.
Whitmore first joined the Muppet crew all the way back in 1978 and took over the voice of Kermit after Muppets creator Jim Henson died in 1990. Henson had been the voice of Kermit up until that point, but Whitmore was chosen as the replacement by Henson’s son, Brian. Since then, he has been the sole voice of Mr. The Frog through several hit movies and the recent ABC mockumentary show that dared to ask: what if Muppets boned?
For anyone nervous about Vogel picking up the Kermit mantle, rest assured: Vogel has plenty of experience voicing popular felt characters over the years. Along with voicing Sergeant Floyd Pepper, the long-time puppeteer he has stepped in at times to fill the roles of Big Bird and Count von Count. Plus, no matter who is providing the voice, Kermit will be Kermit. His arms will wiggle. His voice will crack. And he and the crew will continue to bring us life’s third greatest gift: laughter.