Disney’s decision to fire muppeteer Steve Whitmire was one that may have been made after years of reported disagreements.
“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,” a spokesperson for The Muppets Studio told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement. “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.”
Whitmire, who voiced Kermit the Frog for 27 years, recently announced in a blog post verified by the publication that he was fired by Disney after previous reports claimed he left his role.
Muppets creator Jim Henson personally asked Whitmire to take over the role of Kermit before his death at age 53 in 1990. Whitmire was among those at the hospital when Henson passed away.
In addition to Kermit, Whitmire had voiced grumpy critic Statler, Rizzo the Rat, the always-startled Beaker, and other characters for the Muppets.
The 57-year-old told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday he was reportedly let go by Disney last October due to unwanted notes during the short-lived Muppets reboot on ABC, as well as a union disagreement.