There's nothing like the bond between a boy and his frog.
Steve Whitmire, who took over as Kermit the Frog after founder Jim Henson died in 1990, says he was fired after 27 years. On Thursday, the puppeteer wrote an emotional blog post in response to news of his replacement, saying he is "devastated to have failed" Henson, whom he met in 1978 when he joined The Muppet Show.
"For me, the Muppets are not just a job, or a career, or even a passion," Whitmire wrote on his personal blog site, titled Muppet Pundit. "They are a calling, an urgent, undeniable, impossible-to-resist way of life. This is my life's work since I was 19 years old. 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."
In the blog post, Whitmire writes that he received a phone call from The Muppet Studio executives last October telling him that Kermit would be recast, although he does not specify the reasons why.
"I have offered multiple remedies to their two stated issues which had never been mentioned to me prior to that phone call," Whitemore said.
He added that he had remained silent about his firing since "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."
In addition to Kermit, Whitmire voiced Rizzo the Rat, one-half of grumpy critics Statler and Waldorf, and other Muppets characters.
Muppets Studio said in a statement to Time magazine Wednesday that it "thanks Steve for his tremendous contributions to Kermit the Frog and the Muppets franchise. We wish him well in his future endeavors."
The Hollywood Reporter and ABC News reported that longtime Muppets performer Matt Vogel (who voices the Count and other characters) will take over as Kermit.
Contributing: The Associated Press