Who voices Kermit the Frog? The history behind the Muppet legend

11 March 2021, 14:44

Kermit the Frog as he looked in 2008
Kermit the Frog as he looked in 2008. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Kermit the Frog is undoubtedly one of the most iconic non-human characters of the last 50 years.

He's been the defacto leader of the Muppets since their creation in the 1950s. Fast forward to the 2020s, and Kermit is still as popular as ever.

Read more: Remembering when Big Bird sang at Jim Henson's funeral, and it was utterly beautiful

From tea-sipping memes to even appearing on The Masked Singer, Kermit is a true hero. He even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and has scored a couple of hit singles in his time. And let's not forget he has one of the best romance stories of all time with Miss Piggy.

But where did he come from and who has voiced him over the years?

A Special Performance of "Rainbow Connection" from Kermit the Frog | The Muppets

Who created Kermit the Frog?

  • Kermit the Frog first appeared on May 9, 1955, in the TV show Sam and Friends, created by puppeteer Jim Henson and his later wife Jane Nebel.
  • The first Kermit was crafted from a discarded turquoise spring coat that belonged to Jim Henson's mother and two ping pong ball halves for eyes.
  • At first, Kermit was more of a lizard than a frog. He later made various TV appearances before his confirmation as a frog was established.
  • His collar was later added to make him resemble a frog, and to conceal the seam between his head and body.

Visual Thinking

Jim Henson with Kermit
Jim Henson with Kermit. Picture: Getty

Why is he called Kermit?

  • The origin of Kermit's name is up for debate. It has been claimed that Kermit was named after Henson's childhood friend Kermit Scott.
  • However, Karen Falk, head archivist for the Jim Henson Legacy organization, denies this claim, saying that Jim "always said that the Frog was not named after this child from his elementary school."
  • Joy DiMenna, the daughter of Kermit Kalman Cohen, who worked as a sound engineer on Sam and Friends, has said that the puppet was named after her father.
  • Another theory is that Kermit was named after Kermit Love, who worked with Henson in designing and creating Muppets. However, Love didn't work with Henson until well after Kermit's creation and naming.
Kermit with Steve Whitmire in 2003
Kermit with Steve Whitmire in 2003. Picture: Getty

Who has voiced Kermit the Frog?

  • Originally, Jim Henson himself voiced Kermit, from 1955 all the way until his death in 1990.
  • Henson's last known performance as Kermit was for an appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show. He died just 12 days later.
  • Following Henson's death, veteran Muppet performer Steve Whitmire replaced him as Kermit's new performer. Whitmire voiced Kermit for some of the Muppets' biggest films including The Muppet Christmas Carol.
  • Whitmire voiced him for 27 years, until he was let go by Disney due to "unacceptable business conduct".
  • Matt Vogel has voiced Kermit since July 2017.