top of page

Media Essays: The Performers of Kermit the Frog

Title Card

Written by Sam the Mini Yeti

Sam the Mini-Yeti

Hey everyone, this is Sam the Mini Yeti and if you remember me from when I reviewed The Muppet Christmas Carol with the Media Man, you'll know I am a big Muppets fan, and as such, I am a big fan of the one, the only, Kermit the Frog.

Kermit the Frog

Who doesn't know Kermit? He's easily Jim Henson's most popular character from the Muppets and of course, the very face of the group. He was created in 1955 by Jim when he turned his mother's old coat into a hand puppet and used a ping-pong ball that he cut in half to be his eyes. While he wasn't the first Muppet star he had, his popularity would grow from being a character in the show Sam and Friends, to the host of The Muppet Show. :D


For this post, I'll be going through the history of Kermit the Frog by the three performers that he has had throughout the years. I won't be talking about the understudies or the animated versions of Kermit, this is SOLEY about the three performers who have handled Kermit full-time. Although I will say, Frank Welker did make a good Kermit voice. ^^


Now without further ado, let's get things started on this blog post.


The First Performer - Jim Henson (1955-1990)

Jim Henson

As I said before, Kermit was created in 1955 by Jim Henson on the show Sam and Friends, and Jim also performed him. Although, Kermit was always the lovable frog we know and love today. In fact, he looked like this:

Kermit had a more abstract design, looking more like a lizard-like monster than a frog. He was one of the main characters of Sam and Friends, and like most of the Muppets featured in the show, his voice is recorded beforehand by Jim and done through lipsync. Kermit's voice in the Sam and Friends days was low-pitched and pretty throaty, and as Kermit began to evolve in design, so did his voice, and his character.

Kermit as a frog

In 1969, Kermit officially became a frog in the television special, Hey Cinderella, as well as Sesame Street, where he was a prominent Muppet. Here, he was portrayed as more of a straight man, with other Sesame Street co-stars like Elmo, and Cookie Monster playing foil to him. Kermit's voice now started shifting between being low-pitched and high-pitched, depending on his mood. This personality would later carry over in his biggest role ever, becoming the host of a little variety show known as...

The Muppet Show

From then on, Kermit has been known as the leader to his fellow Muppet Show cast, trying his best to keep the show running smoothly while trying to keep his cool under all this chaos. Easily, the idea of Kermit being the leader very much reflects Jim Henson as a leader himself.


In 1990, Jim Henson suddenly passed away at the age of 53 due to toxic shock syndrome. The passing of Jim became one of the toughest times for The Jim Henson Company. And with that, Kermit the Frog needed a new performer, and he was introduced in the special, The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson.


The Second Performer - Steve Whitmire (1990-2016)

Steve Whitmere

That same year, Steve Whitmire took on being the performer for Kermit. He had already been a Muppet performer at the start of The Muppet Show and had his own characters to perform like Rizzo the Rat, Bean Bunny, and Lips, but to take over performing Kermit proved to be a pressuring situation for Steve. But then, he had a dream that would convince him that he could do it.

Bob Cratchit

In 1992, Steve's first major project performing Kermit the Frog would be in the feature film, The Muppet Christmas Carol, where Kermit himself played the role of Bob Cratchit. Steve's Kermit voice surprisingly doesn't have much of that distinctive throaty kind of voice Jim had but it's still there, and I think Steve did a good job with the voice he used for Kermit.


Steve kept that Kermit voice throughout his career, even finding the genuine subtlety that makes him feel real. Steve was the Kermit that I grew up with, so I got a lot of nostalgia for him.


In 2016, the unexpected happened. Steve Whitmire was fired from the Muppets, and in doing so, some characters that he originated suddenly disappeared. Still, with him being fired from performing Kermit, it also was time to recast Kermit again.


The Third and Current Performer - Matt Vogel (2017-present)

Matt Vogel

In 2017, Matt Vogel became the new performer for Kermit the Frog. He had already taken over for another big Muppet character, Big Bird in Sesame Street, and he also performed Kermit's evil look-alike Constantine from Muppets Most Wanted. Oh, sweet irony. When he was announced as the new Kermit, people were speculating how he would sound, and when the new voice was revealed in a YouTube video and The Muppets Take the Bowl...some did not take it well. But what do I think of Matt as Kermit?


Well, let me start by saying it did take me a moment to get used to, but as I let myself take it all in...he's not that bad at all. While yes, it does suck that Steve got fired, Matt's voice is pretty dang good. Matt can bring Kermit back his distinctive throaty voice, and even though Vogel has not performed Kermit for so long, I see a bright future in him as he's good at what he does.


Conclusion

So these are the three performers of Kermit the Frog we have had so far in this point in time. It's safe to say that no matter who Kermit is performed by, he'll always find a way to hop into our hearts.


I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and thanks to the Media Man for letting me write this one.

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page