When you think of Kermit the Frog’s voice, you probably think of Jim Henson. But the truth is that Steve Whitmire has actually been the voice of the iconic muppet (and tea sipper) since Henson died in 1990. That’s about to change, as Whitmire has left Muppets Studio as a performer, per The Hollywood Reporter.
The reasons behind Whitmire’s departure remain unclear. Muppet fansite Tough Pigs was the first to report about it, but they didn’t know the details. A Muppets Studio spokesperson declined to provide further info.
This doesn’t mean America’s favorite frog will go voiceless moving forward. Muppets performer Matt Vogel will take over as the voice of Kermit, starting next week in a “Muppets Thought of the Week” video.
When Jim Henson died, his son Brian handpicked Whitmire to assume the role at the center of the Muppets empire. He had been with the studio since 1978 when he started on The Muppet Show. From there he was a steady performer and integral part of the team, appearing in multiple Muppet films, Fraggle Rock, Dinosaurs, Sesame Street,
Along with voicing Kermit, he is also the originator and only voice ever used for Rizzo the Rat. Some of the other characters he has performed as include Lips, Beaker, Ernie, Link Hogthrob, and Wembley Fraggle.
When Whitmire took over Kermit for Henson, there was a noticeable difference in the way they did the voice. But over time, a new generation of children came to appreciate their version of the beloved character. While this will change the way audiences hear Kermit moving forward, it just means it’s time for another interpretation.