It’s not easy being green.
Steve Whitmire, the puppeteer who took over as Kermit the Frog after Jim Henson’s death, was fired earlier this week. He had been with the Muppets since 1978, and spent 27 years in the role. Whitmire stated that he is “devastated to have failed [Jim Henson]” in a blog post. He also offered this to fans:
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 since I was 19 years old. 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 made every attempt to remedy the situation, staying silent in the hopes they’d reconsider, even offering fixes to their stated issues. Regardless, he was let go. The Muppets Studio thanked him for his years of work and dedication, and gave their best wishes in his future endeavors. The reason for Whitmire’s firing has not been made public at this time.
Whitmire’s tenure as Kermit spans hundreds of shows, films, video games and television series. He had been with the company since The Muppet Movie (1978), and has performed in every major film and television show put out by by them since then. This may well be a huge blow to Henson’s legacy, though only time will tell. It would be easy to blame the low ratings of The Muppets (2015-2016) for his firing, but highly unlikely overall. We’ll just have to wait to find out.