After nearly four decades in his job, Steve Whitmire alleges he was forced out by his bosses.
What makes his case highly unusual is that Whitmire is the voice - and puppeteer - behind the world’s most famous frog: Kermit.
Though Whitmire is hardly a household name himself, his departure from his job has caused shockwaves around the world - especially so since he alleged he was pushed out of his longtime job.
Muppets executives announced earlier this week that Whitmire - who has worked for The Muppet Show in various roles since 1978, when he was 19 years old - was retiring, and would be replaced by another Muppets performer, Matt Vogel.
But Whitmire has hit out at his bosses, saying he had not retired, but been axed.
“I feel that I am at the top of my game, and I want all of you who love the Muppets to know that I would never consider abandoning Kermit or any of the others because to do so would be to forsake the assignment entrusted to me by Jim Henson, my friend and mentor, but even more, my hero.”
Whitmire, who took over the role of Kermit when Muppets mastermind Henson died in 1990, wrote on his blog
that he had been advised in October last year that studio bosses were “recasting” his role.
“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, without elaborating on those issues.
“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.”
Whitmire said he had stayed silent since in hope that the studio might reverse its decision.
“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.”
He ended his emotional blog post by thanking fans for their devotion to the Muppets.
“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.”
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