What happened to Kermit the Frog? A huge change is coming to the beloved character — Steve Whitmire, the person who voiced the puppet for the past 27 years, was fired by Disney executives because they claim that he was exhibiting “unacceptable” conduct.
Steve, 57, says that he was fired in October but has remained silent on the issue because he was promised that he would eventually be “honored for his contributions,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. But now that it seems like there’s no hope for him to work out his issues with Disney, he’s speaking out.
Steve Whitmire with the Kermit the Frog puppet.
“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,” Steve told THR. “I have been outspoken about what’s best for the Muppets since the Muppets came to Disney , 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.”
He had been voicing Kermit since 1978, and in 1990, he was asked to look over Kermit’s character by creator Jim Henson’s family after Jim passed away. He took that role seriously and he often gave feedback on storylines and scripts for Kermit in order to preserve the character to align with Jim’s vision — but a spokesperson for The Muppets Studio released a statement and said they consulted with Jim’s family before they made their decision to fire him.
“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,” the statement read. “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.”