Published Jul 13, 2017Earlier this week, Muppets fans were shocked to learn that Steve Whitmire, longtime performer for Kermit the Frog, would be stepping down after 27 years in the role. While many assumed he was retiring, Whitmire now says he was fired by Disney.
Whitmire confirmed the news in a personal blog post which was verified by The Hollywood Reporter.
"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," he wrote. "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."
Whitmire was personally asked to take over Kermit for Jim Henson prior to the creator's death in 1990. It's a task that Whitmire has not taken lightly.
"For me the Muppets are not just a job, or a career, or even a passion," he said. "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 added that he hopes Disney's decision will at least be the best one for the future of the franchise.
"I have remained silent the last nine months in hopes that the Disney company might reverse their course," he wrote. "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."
In a statement, Disney thanked Whitmire for his service and confirmed that Muppeteer Matt Vogel will take over the role of Kermit the Frog next week.
It's been a rough few years for the franchise after ABC's The Muppets was constantly retooled and ultimately cancelled. Here's hoping the Muppets can find a new way to re-enter pop culture.