Jim Henson’s daughter has slammed Steve Whitmire, the puppeteer who voiced and operated Kermit the Frog after he was sacked last week.
Since his firing, Whitmire has said that it was not his choice to leave the Muppets, and that he was ‘willing to do whatever is required to remedy’ the concerns of Muppet bosses at Disney.
Yesterday, a spokesperson confirmed that Whitmire’s dismissal after 27 years of playing the famous frog was due to unspecified ‘repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years’.
And now Cheryl Henson has laid into Whitmire, in a withering Facebook post, grabbed by Deadline.
“Steves version of history is ridiculously self-serving,” she wrote.
“My father never asked him to perform Kermit, my brother Brian did. Steve’s performance of Kermit has strayed far away from my father’s good hearted, compassionate leader of the Muppets.
“Steve performed Kermit as a bitter, angry, depressed victim. Worst of all, in the past few years, he had not been funny or fun. Recasting Kermit is long overdue. Stop with the pity party. Let’s get back to the true spirit of Jim Henson’s Kermit!”
Meanwhile, her brother Brian Henson has echoed the bad feeling surrounding Whitmire, who in an interview with Inside Edition where he held back tears, says he ‘felt ambushed’ by his dismissal.
Henson said that Whitmire was ‘disrespectful’ and made ‘outrageous demands and often played brinkmanship’, adding that he is ‘sad that this has become an issue’.
“Steve would use ‘I am now Kermit and if you want the Muppets, you better make me happy because the Muppets are Kermit.’ And that is really not OK,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.
Whitmire has now been replaced by Matt Vogel, who played Kermit doppelgänger Constantine in ‘Muppets Most Wanted’, and the likes of Ernie, The Count and Big Bird on ‘Sesame Street’.