Steve Whitmire has hopped off the Muppet train forcing Kermit the Frog to get handsy with someone else. The news comes as quite a shock due to both the continued popularity of The Muppets franchise, and Kermit the Frog in particular. Whitmire exits after voicing Kermit for 27 years, handpicked by creator Jim Henson to replace himself as both puppeteer and voice actor after his death in 1990.
Before taking over Kermit, Whitmire had been a member of The Jim Henson Company since 1978. Whitmire has made a significant contrbution to the franchise over the years, originating characters including Rizzo the Rat, Miss Piggy’s dog Foo-Foo, and Sprocket the Dog, as well as taking over others, such as Beaker and Statler. It is unknown which of Whitmire’s characters will be carried forward after his departure.
The news of Whitmire’s departure came from the Muppets fan site ToughPigs, who, after noticing some changes in recent Muppets videos, contacted Disney for comment, who replied: “Steve Whitmire is no longer working with the Muppets. Matt Vogel will be the new performer for Kermit the Frog. We will be seeing Matt’s first footage as Kermit in a Muppets Thought Of The Week video next week.”
Things aren’t looking too bad knowing that Matt Vogel will take over the iconic role. A member of The Jim Henson Company since the 1990s, Vogel’s abilities are well trusted, having aided in multiple roles, assisting with Whitmire as Ernie, Carroll Spinney as Big Bird, and taking over a number of Jerry Nelson’s characters on his own recommendation. Notably, in 2013, Vogel assumed both voice and puppetry duties of the Count.
In Muppets Most Wanted (2014), Matt Vogel played Constantine, “an almost-identical frog doing his best to act like Kermit“. Something tells me Vogel won’t be too troubled being green.
Matt Vogel’s first footage as Kermit is expected to land online next week.