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Posted: July 14, 2017

Steve Whitmire, fired puppeteer behind Kermit the Frog, says he’s ‘devastated’

FILE - In this July 11, 2015, file photo, Kermit the Frog, left, and puppeteer Steve Whitmire attend
Tonya Wise/Tonya Wise/Invision/AP
FILE - In this July 11, 2015, file photo, Kermit the Frog, left, and puppeteer Steve Whitmire attend "The Muppets" panel on day 3 of Comic-Con International in San Diego. ABC News and The Hollywood Reporter reported July 10, 2017, that Whitmire is no longer performing the character. (Photo by Tonya Wise/Invision/AP, File)


By Kelcie Willis, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

The former puppeteer of the Muppet Kermit the Frog is speaking out after news emerged Monday that he was fired.

USA Today reported that Steve Whitmire responded to the news in a blog post on his website.

In the post, the first on his site, Whitemire said the Muppets, for him, “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.”

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For 27 years, Whitmire was the man behind the frog, voicing Kermit since he was 19 after the death of Muppets creator Jim Henson. Henson’s son, Brian, chose Whitemire as Kermit’s “voice” .

Whitmire said he found out he was being replaced in October 2016, when he says he “received a phone call from The Muppets Studio’s executives to say they were recasting.”

Related: Voice behind Kermit the Frog is leaving after 27 years

According to his post, there were two issues executives and Disney had with him. The issues were not specified.

“Through a new business representative, I have offered multiple remedies to their two stated issues which had never been mentioned to me prior to that phone call,” he wrote. “I wish that we could have sat down, looked each other in the eye, and discussed what was on their minds before they took such a drastic action.

“I have remained silent the last nine months in hopes that the Disney company might reverse their course. Doing what is best for the Muppets is the lens through which all my interactions have been filtered. Given the opportunity I remain willing to do whatever is required to remedy their concerns because I feel my continued involvement with the characters is in the best interest of the Muppets.”

A Muppet Studio spokeswoman said on Monday that Whitmire was being replaced by Matt Vogel.

Whitmire, who referred to Henson as his hero in the blog, apologized to fans.

“I just want you all to know that I am sorry if I have disappointed any of you at any point throughout our journey, and to let everyone know that I am devastated to have failed in my duty to my hero.”

In a statement to Time, a Muppet Studio spokesperson said, “The Muppets Studio thanks Steve for his tremendous contributions to Kermit the Frog and The Muppets franchise. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”

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