Steve Whitmire

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Steve Whitmire
Steve Whitmire 2014.jpg
Whitmire at a White House screening of Muppets Most Wanted in 2014.
Born Steven Lawrence Whitmire
(1959-09-24) September 24, 1959 (age 56)
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.[1]
Occupation Puppeteer
Years active 1978–present
Spouse(s) Melissa Whitmire[2]

Steven Lawrence "Steve" Whitmire (born September 24, 1959) is an American puppeteer, best known for being the performer of Kermit the Frog and Ernie—roles he inherited after Jim Henson's death in 1990.[3] Whitmire has been with the Muppets since 1978,[4] performing a variety of characters on The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock series and during such occupations has worked for the Jim Henson Company, Sesame Workshop, and Disney's The Muppets Studio.


Steve Whitmire first appeared (unpaid), as a pre-show event at Six Flags Over Georgia. He performed with his then alter-ego puppet Otis for the children waiting to see a multimedia show.

From there Whitmire appeared on local Atlanta TV with his puppet Otis. WATL-TV was owned at that time by former Atlanta children's television host "Officer Don" Kennedy. Otis made appearances on various WATL 36 shows with Ludlow Porch, performing with the Georgia Bulldogs' Larry Munson, Don Kennedy, and Entertainment Page host Artie Goodman. As Otis, Whitmire interviewed Olivia Newton-John during a tour promoting an album.

He worked with puppets after graduating high school, and eventually got a job working on The Muppet Show in 1978. Since then, Whitmire has performed in almost every major Henson company project, including non-Muppet fare such as The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and Dinosaurs.

Characters performed[edit]

Whitmire has been the performer of two signature MuppetsKermit the Frog and Ernie—since the death of their creator and original performer Jim Henson in 1990. Whitmire was personally asked by Brian Henson to be Kermit's performer a few weeks after Jim Henson's death. Henson sent Whitmire a Kermit puppet to his residence, however, Whitmire hid the puppet away for weeks before deciding on taking on the role.[5]

Muppet characters original to Whitmire include Rizzo the Rat,[6][7] Lips (the trumpet player from Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem), Foo-Foo (Miss Piggy's beloved dog), Fraggle Rock's Wembley Fraggle, and Bean Bunny.

Following the death of Richard Hunt and the retirement of Jerry Nelson, Whitmire took over the roles of Beaker and Statler. He voiced Link Hogthrob in the Muppet RaceMania and Muppet Party Cruise video games. He also performed Hogthrob for the 2011 film, The Muppets. This was the first speaking appearance of the puppet since the death of Jim Henson, the original performer of the character. Hogthrob appears in several scenes in the background and gets a moment in the spotlight as part of a barbershop quartet, singing "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Since 2008, Whitmire has also been the new performer of another of Jim Henson's roles, The Muppet Newsman.



Film credits
Year Film Role Notes
1979 The Muppet Movie Assistant for "Rainbow Connection" sequence, additional characters Performer
1981 The Great Muppet Caper Rizzo the Rat, Lips Performer
1982 The Dark Crystal Skeksis Scientist Performer
1984 The Muppets Take Manhattan Rizzo the Rat, Gill the Frog, Dog, additional characters Performer
1985 Dreamchild The Caterpillar (puppetry only), Mock Turtle (puppetry only) Puppeteer
1986 Labyrinth The Four Guards (puppetry only), Firey 4 (puppetry only), Ambrosius (puppetry only) Puppeteer
1992 The Muppet Christmas Carol Rizzo the Rat, Bean Bunny, Sprocket, Kermit the Frog, Beaker, Belinda Cratchet, additional characters Performer
1996 Muppet Treasure Island Rizzo the Rat, Kermit the Frog, Beaker, The Dodo, Walleye Pike, Jacques Roach, Inkspots, Rats Performer
1999 Muppets from Space Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Bean Bunny, Cosmic Fish, Beach hippie, Alien Gonzo Performer/actor
1999 The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland Ernie, Bad Humor Man, Football Stenchman, Sharon Groan, Stuckweed, Parrot Performer
2002 Kermit's Swamp Years Kermit the Frog, Young Kermit, Chico, Jack Rabbit Performer
2002 It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Statler (puppetry only), Mr. Poodlepants, Bean Bunny Performer/puppeteer
2005 The Muppets' Wizard of Oz Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Statler Performer
2007 Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium Kermit the Frog Performer
2011 The Muppets Kermit the Frog, Beaker, Rizzo the Rat, Statler, Link Hogthrob, The Muppet Newsman, Lips Performer
2014 Muppets Most Wanted Kermit the Frog, Foo-Foo, Statler, Beaker, Lips, Rizzo the Rat, Link Hogthrob, The Muppet Newsman, Andy Pig Performer


Television credits
Year(s) Film Role Notes
1978–1981 The Muppet Show Rizzo the Rat, Lips, Foo-Foo, Fletcher Bird (voice), additional characters Performer
1979 The Muppets Go Hollywood Additional characters, extra Performer/actor
1979 The Muppet Movie Kermit the Frog (assistant for "Rainbow Connection" number), additional characters Performer
1979 John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together Additional characters Performer
1982 The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show Rizzo the Rat, back-up singer, additional characters Performer/actor
1983–1987 Fraggle Rock Wembley Fraggle, Sprocket, Marlon Fraggle, Flange Doozer, Murray the Minstrel, additional characters Performer
1983 Rocky Mountain Holiday Rizzo the Rat, additional characters Wembley Fraggle Performer
1986 The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years Rizzo the Rat, additional characters Performer
1986 The Christmas Toy Mew Performer
1986 The Tale of the Bunny Picnic Bean Bunny Performer
1987 A Muppet Family Christmas Rizzo the Rat, Lips, Sprocket, Christmas Turkey, Wembley Fraggle, Performer
1987 Inter Tube Henry, Duke Performer
1989 The Jim Henson Hour Bean Bunny, Flash, Jacques Roach, Waldo C. Graphic, Yellow Extreme, additional characters Performer
1990 The Muppets at Walt Disney World Rizzo the Rat, Bean Bunny, Lips, additional characters Performer
1990 The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson Rizzo the Rat, Bean Bunny, Kermit the Frog Performer
1991–1994 Dinosaurs B.P. Richfield (puppetry), Robbie Sinclair (face), Chief Elder (face), Mr. Mason Dixon, Sonny Woody, Blarney, Judge H.T. Stone (puppetry) Performer/puppeteer
1992–? Muppet Meeting Films Flunky, Mr. Briteweight, Kermit the Frog Performer
1993 Sesame Street Stays Up Late! Ernie Performer
1993–2014 Sesame Street Ernie Performer/voice
1994 Jim Henson's Animal Show Jake the Polar Bear, Wingo the Shoebill, Lawrence the Orangutan Performer
1994 Muppet Classic Theater Rizzo the Rat, Kermit the Frog Performer
1995 Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree Bear, Kermit the Frog, Owl Performer
1999 CinderElmo Ernie, Kermit the Frog, Prince the Dog Performer
1998 Elmopalooza Kermit the Frog, Ernie Performer
1996–1998 Muppets Tonight Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Bean Bunny, Captain Pighead, Andy Pig, Mr. Poodlepants, additional characters Performer
1996 Elmo Saves Christmas Kermit the Frog Performer/puppeteer
2007–2008 Johnny and the Sprites Statler Performer
2008 Studio DC: Almost Live Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Statler Performer
2008 A Muppet Christmas: Letters to Santa Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Statler Performer
2011 WWE Raw Kermit the Frog, Beaker, Statler Puppeteer
2012 WWE Tribute to the Troops Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat Puppeteer
2013 Good Luck Charlie Kermit the Frog (Episode 78) Puppeteer/Guest Star
2013 Lady Gaga and the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular Kermit the Frog, Beaker, Rizzo the Rat, Statler Performer
2015 Muppet Moments Kermit the Frog, Beaker, Rizzo the Rat, Statler, Sheep Performer
2015–2016 The Muppets Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Statler, Lips, The Muppet Newsman Performer

Other appearances[edit]

Other credits
Year(s) Film Role Notes
1991 Muppet*Vision 3D Waldo C. Graphic, Bean Bunny, Rizzo the Rat Performer
2005–2006 Statler and Waldorf: From the Balcony Statler (Ep. 1-8) Performer
2008–2009 Muppet YouTube Shorts Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Statler, Rabbits, Pumpkins, Penguins, Turkey Performer
2010 The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora Kermit the Frog, Beaker, Andy Pig, Foo-Foo, The Muppet Newsman Performer
2013–2014 Muppisodes[8] Kermit the Frog, Beaker, Rizzo the Rat, Statler Performer
2014 Disney Drive-On with The Muppets[9] Kermit the Frog Performer


  1. ^ "Ratting Out", Muppet Central, 1999. Accessed 24 November 2009.
  2. ^ Hennes, Joe (15 October 2008). "My Week with Steve: Day 4". Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Lloyd, Robert (May 16, 2015). "If Harry Shearer leaves 'The Simpsons,' what will happen? Just ask Bugs Bunny". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 20, 2015. 
  4. ^ "'The Muppets' Return to TV; Miss Piggy Swans, Kermit Suffers". The Associated Press. The New York Times. September 22, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2015. 
  5. ^ Irwin, Jon (September 2015). "On the Other Hand". Longreads. Retrieved September 22, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Voice Of Rizzo the Rat". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved 2014-04-10. 
  7. ^ top-story (2009-01-01). "The Stories Behind 20 Muppet Favorites". Mental Floss. Retrieved 2014-04-10. 
  8. ^ Graser, Marc (6 December 2013). "Watch: The Muppets Star in New Series of 'Muppisodes'". Variety. Retrieved 8 December 2013. 
  9. ^ Graser, Marc (August 1, 2014). "Disney Launches The Muppets Digital Series". Variety. Retrieved August 2, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Jim Henson
Performer of Kermit the Frog
1990 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Richard Hunt
Performer of Beaker
1992 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Jim Henson
Performer of Ernie
1993 – 2014
Succeeded by
Billy Barkhurst
Preceded by
Jim Henson
Performer of Link Hogthrob
2000 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Jerry Nelson
Performer of Statler
2002 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Jim Henson
Performer of The Muppet Newsman
2008 – present
Succeeded by