After 27 years, Kermit the Frog is getting a new voice. The Muppets Studio has confirmed that Steve Whitmire who voiced the famous frog for over two decades will step down.
Whitmire will be replaced by Matt Vogel, who’s voiced famous puppets over the years, and is set to begin next week.
Kermit’s getting a new voice
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Muppets Studios confirmed the news. Kermit the Frog will sound different in future days as a long time performer Steve Whitmire steps down.
Steve Whitmire voiced the Muppet’s character since 1990 after the show’s creator died.
In addition to Kermit, Whitmire had voiced grumpy critic Statler, Rizzo the Rat, the always-startled Beaker and other characters for the Muppets.
The studio didn’t announce the reason behind the decision.
Representatives for Disney, which owns Muppets Studio, didn’t immediately return a request for comment Tuesday about the motivation behind the move.
Matt Vogel will replace Steve Whitmire. Vogel is no stranger to the puppeteer world, he has voiced such characters as Big Bird, Robin the Frog, and The Count.
Matt Vogel has had some experience
Vogel took over voicing the Count when ‘Sesame Street’ regular Jerry Nelson died in 2012 and soon took over many of Nelson’s characters.
He also has some experience voicing Kermit. He voiced Kermit imitator Constantine in 2014 film ‘Muppets Most Wanted.’
Vogel told the fan site The Muppet Mindset that he found it most difficult to replicate Robin’s voice.
“The voice is so much like Jerry’s that it makes it nearly impossible to get there. Sometimes the more ‘character voice’ it is, the easier it is to do,” he explained.
This is not the first time that children’s TV shows face changes in key cast members. In 2012, Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash resigned from ‘Sesame Street’ in amid allegations of sexually abused underage boys. Elmo is now performed by Ryan Dillon and the show did just as good.
However, the change has caused mixed reactions.
Reportedly devastated fans took to social media to demand Muppet owners Disney to reveal the reason behind Whitmire’s exit.
Matt Vogel will perform Kermit beginning with ‘Muppets Thought of the Week’ video next week, as announced by the spokesperson.
27 years together
Steve Whitmire began voicing Kermit after the death of Jim Henson in 1990. From that moment on they were inseparable.
He was reportedly chosen by Henson’s son Brian to take over Kermit after the character’s creator died. He’d been involved with the Muppets since at least 1978, starting with ‘The Muppet Show’.
The actor had previously taken about the challenge of taking on Kermit. “If you play my voice next to Jim’s voice, they’re not the same. They’re very close and the attitude is very close and because I had the experience of working with Jim very closely and knowing him. I think I gained some insight into where this character came from within Jim,” he once said in an interview.
The actor has previously spoken of his struggle to follow Henson and keep Kermit fresh.
“The No. 1 goal in trying to continue a character like Kermit was to make sure that the character stayed the same and consistent but didn’t become stale and just a copy,” he said.
“We wanted him to continue to be able to grow a bit, but have this foundation of what Jim started,” he added.
Whitmire and Kermit were inseparable for years. The two made TV appearances on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” ”30 Rock” and “Saturday Night Live” and in films like “Muppets Most Wanted” and “The Muppets” in 2011.
Legendary Frog and meme
Kermit was the original Muppet created by American puppeteer Jim Henson. He first appeared in 1955 in a television comedy ‘Sam and Friends.’
Back then he looked more lizardlike. Kermit was fashioned from an old coat belonging to Henson’s mother and was named after one of Henson’s childhood friends.
Since his debut in 1955 on the early Henson puppet show ‘Sam and Friends’, Kermit has appeared in almost every Muppet production.
Henson and his 2-foot-tall puppet joined “Sesame Street” in 1969 and then appeared sporadically. “The Muppet Show” followed in 1976 and ended its run in 1982.
‘Sesame Street’ is the Muppets’ biggest franchise and one of the most widely-viewed and successful children’s shows of all time.
Since then, the green amphibian has become one of the world’s most recognizable characters, has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is an Internet meme sensation.
In recent years, Kermit has also become wildly popular in memes on social media.
One depicts Kermit sipping tea and remarking: “But that’s none of my business.”
Another, in which he is known as Evil Kermit, shows Kermit speaking to Constantine—an evil Russian frog and a Muppets’ character who functions as a doppelganger for Kermit—who acts as an evil influence upon Kermit.
Source: US News