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Kermit at 70

Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by Vic Romano, May 21, 2008.

  1. Vic Romano

    Vic Romano Active Member

    First let me say that as iconic as a character as he is, I have difficulty separating Kermit from Jim. To me, Kermit is Jim and Jim is Kermit. I admit this is a bit of a bias view, as Kermit should really stand alone and just be Kermit, with Jim seen as somewhat of a father figure perhaps, and Steve as an uncle, or perhaps very very close friend. But that's just me.

    Having said that, I've come to greatly appreciate and love Steve's Kermit. I embarrassingly admit that I used to seriously dislike him, but now that I'm older and more understanding, I realize that there's no one better, nor has there ever been, to perform Kermit other than Steve. He's extremely talented, has brought new heights to Kermit's singing ability, and above all else, has been around long enough to understand the character. Plus, he really wanted it. Kermit wasn't just handed to someone really talented to take him over; he was handed to someone really talented who truly loved Kermit.

    Now to my point: I thought of an interesting idea, in the year 2025, Steve will have been performing Kermit as long as Jim did. Steve will be about 76 years-old, which is believable that he could still very well be performing Kermit then, and possibly longer. Now while I believe that even if Steve is to perform Kermit longer than Jim, Jim will ultimately have performed Kermit more in terms of actual performances (hours) than Steve. My question is, at what point (if ever) would people begin to consider Steve the penultimate puppeteer of Kermit over Jim? In other words, is it possible that at some point in time, Kermit would be more Steve's character than Jim's?
  2. theprawncracker

    theprawncracker Well-Known Member

    Wow! Great thread topic, Dave!

    Honestly, I really don't think that Kermit will ever become Steve's, but I don't know. Kermit was such a big part of Jim, but I do suppose that he could easily become just as big a part of Steve, if the character is permitted to evolve in that way.

    But I guess my way of thinking is that Jim created Kermit evolved originally as such a facet of Jim that it would be hard of him to almost change character in a sense and become a facet of Steve. I mean, sure, parts of Steve have come across in his performances of Kermit, but deep down Kermit is still the same character Jim created and brought to life, and I think it's going to be hard to change that. :smirk:

    But with the time span you're thinking of I think it's quite possible. (Sorry, that wasn't a very straight-forward answer. :p)
  3. Super Scooter

    Super Scooter New Member

    What an interesting thought. I was trying to think of something to compare this to, but that's hard, isn't it?

    I was thinking of Mickey Mouse, and how very few people think of him as being a Walt Disney character. That is, they think of him as representing the Walt Disney Company, but not as being voiced by Walt Disney. Then again, Disney quit performing the mouse several years before his death, whereas Jim was active with Kermit until his death. Mickey seems to be very different from Walt, but Kermit is very much like Jim. Not exactly like Jim, but we associate Kermit and his personality with Jim. So, I think it is possible and very likely that we might continue to think of Kermit as being Jim's character because, to me, Kermit seems so much a part of Jim Henson. Even now.

    Kermit is Steve's character now, and Steve has to be able to draw from himself in order to play the character convincingly, but I think Kermit will always be so much of what Jim was.

    :) :) :) <--- gratuitous froggies.
  4. Baby Gonzo

    Baby Gonzo Member

    The way I see it, when I hear the name Steve Whitmire, I think of Kermit. When I hear the name Kermit, I think of Jim Henson. I don't think that can change, unless Jim's name is somehow lost to history... Which I hope will not ever happen, and doubt that can happen, at least in any of our lifetimes.

    I always hear people talking about how much they dislike the way Steve does Kermit, and I really shake my head when I hear them. Taking on the role of Kermit is a huge responsibility. Steve's other characters (besides Rizzo) have had to be downplayed in the past decade or so. Not that he really had many big characters to begin with, but I think it is admirable that he has taken on such a big role in Kermit, knowing that Kermit will always be Jim's character. The world needs Kermit, and though he'll never be quite the same as he was when Jim was with us, he will always represent at least some part of Jim.
  5. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    What a gorgious and poetic way of putting it, exactly what I was thinking, but in better words.

    I do, however, think of Rowlf as Jim's signiture character, rather than Kermit.

    I'll weigh in on the rest of the debate once I've caught up with sleep.
  6. peyjenk

    peyjenk New Member

    I was so little when Jim died that I have grown up with both Jim's Kermit and Steve's Kermit. As far as my experience goes, Kermit is as much one as the other. Honestly, I have never been able to tell the difference between the two performers (except for the obvious things, like dates of projects).

    I was thinking about this a few days ago and meant to start a thread, but never got to it: Jim died when I was very little, and at the time, it didn't matter to me who he was. During the news converage of his death, my parents pointed out a picture of him to me and said "That's the man who made the Muppets." That meant nothing to me. I couldn't understand what this person, this flesh-and-blood human had to do with the flesh-and-blood Muppets I loved so much. I watched and rewatched The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson for the Muppets, never quite grasping what it was all about. I wondered where Kermit was, and then when he showed up at the end, it was like everything was fixed.

    Looking back, I know that that was Steve's first time as Kermit. I now know and love who Jim Henson was and can appreciate the man who Steve Whitmire is. Kermit is Kermit, and he has been very fortunate to have two performers who care so much about him, but who mean so little to the small children just happy to see the frog sing and dance.
  7. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    How did I miss this? Yay! What a good question!

    This question, more or less, has been at the heart of my recent digruntlement (although fairly mild) with The Muppet Show 3rd Season promotion campaign. First of all, let me preface this by saying Bless Steve--may his fingers never cramp--for being willing to step into enormous shoes to take over the character of Kermit. It would have been double devastating to have lost both Jim and Kermit at the same time. So I am very grateful to Steve, and I do appreciate his attempts to make the character his own...

    ...but....and you just KNEW there had to be a but in there somewhere, didn't you?

    BUT, I find myself wanting to argue, replacing the character is not as simple as finding someone else to do the puppet, is it? That's like arguing that if you lost your child or your spouse that you could simply feel better if you found someone that LOOKED like them to do all the things that the child or the spouse used to do. The biggest difference for me isn't the voice or the puppetry skills, all of which are excellent a majority of the time, but the fact that Kermit has had a sort of "soul transplant"--and we all know that the rejection rate on those is high.

    I like Steve--I do! I found his first forays as Kermit quite tender and sweet--his singing and the gentle interplay with Miss Piggy during MTI both make me want to gush, but Kermit is different now. He just is. I can't put my finger on it exactly, but there is a sort of lack of seriousness, or "what-the-hey-ness" about the character now that I don't like as much as I did the measured, thoughtful and somewhat sober Kermit that Jim portrayed. This is best portrayed, I think, in the first three movies, when Kermit is clearly shown to have the weight of the world on his shoulders at the thought of letting down his friends. His solemness, his discomfort at being thrust into the role of leader, his earnestness--these things all added depth to Kermit as a character and I just don't see them in Steve's portrayal. He approached this depth in IAVMMC, but then the script practically DEMANDED that he did because the whole plot revolved around Kermit feeling that enormous responsibility. And doing something because you HAVE to, because you're pushed into it by necessity, isn't the same a doing something because it is your nature to do it.

    This seems so terribly unfair to Mr. Whitmire. Forbid that I should do a job for this long and still find myself compared to my predecessor! I'd want to strangle someone. Still, the heart wants what it wants, and this muppet fan wants...maturity. In Steve's very capable hands, I find Kermit funny and irreverent, quick with a joke, gentle with friends and charming with guests. He is a delight to be around--except when he is making yet ANOTHER fat joke about Piggy while trying to pretend that the love affair of the century (which was pretty well documented every form of media available back then) never even happened. I see the same affable distance between him and Fozzie when doing they were doing the circuit for the 3rd season release. I noticed that many people commented that Fozzie seemed good (he was) and Kermit seemed good (also true). I also noticed that no one really seemed to feel that Kermit and Fozzie did well together. If you want to know what I'm talking about, think of "Good Grief, the Comedian's a Bear!" or when Fozzie is so heartbroken because Kermit won't let him come on the date with Lady Holiday. This same level of emotional depth was ALMOST acheived when Kermit forgives Fozzie in IAVMMC, but again, it was the emotion of the SCRIPT that was driving it, not the emotion of the character.

    The Kermit that I grew up with is gone forever, and that makes me very, very sad, but not as sad as I would be some version of Kermit wasn't around to help asuage that loss. I'm afraid, dear, that I can't put a time limit on when Steve might surpass in years and skill the Kermit that Jim brought so lovingly to life, but I can give you a hint: It won't happen until Kermit grows up a little. IMNHO, Kermit needs to become more of an adult frog and less of an adolescent who will (and does) crack wise at the expense of friendship.

    Yes, Kermit could be snarky at times--he often was--but his snarkiness usually had a point to it. If he was criticizing Fozzie's act, it was because he was tyring to figure out how to cram it into the lineup. If he made a comment about Pigyg's physique it was because of the demands of wardrobe or such. Now, the nice, sortof nerdy frog I adore seems much more likely to laugh at milk coming out of someone's nose than to provide the necessary anchor to this weird batch of cast and crew.

    (I feel like this post is already quite long and I want to break hear and collect my thought for the next comment.)
  8. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member


    Kermit is most well-known by the public as an original cast member of Sesame Street in November of 1969. Let's round that to 1970 for the sake of having a nice round number to deal with. That results in Jim Henson having more than a solid 20 years as mainstream character Kermit the Frog until the puppeteer's death in the May of 1990. Steve picked up the where Jim left off in 1990 and has been performing the frog in high profile projects for the last 19 years now. Next year will mark his 20th anniversary.

    So basically, Kermit has had 20 high profile under Jim and almost 20 high profile years under Steve. Kermit is of course, much older, but in general it's 20/20 Kermit to most folk.
  9. zns

    zns Well-Known Member

    Hmmmmm... it's interesting that you brought up this sort of topic Dave. Kermit is certainly one of the most important characters within the core of the Muppets, because without him, they just would not be able to survive. Kermit is always calm and passive, although he can occassionally erupt from time to time. Yet as long as fans continue to support the work of Jim Henson, Kermit will always be there.

    At some point though, somebody will have to take over Steve Whitmire's place. But for now, what he is doing with everyone's favorite amphibian is just good enough to carry on Jim's legacy. That is my philosophy about it. Thank you. :)
  10. Krazedmuppet

    Krazedmuppet Active Member

    LOL! that was awsome! :crazy: that should be in the puppeteer's prayer...

    I am always reminded of the dream that Steve had about him preforming Kermit after Jim died. Jim gave him a nod and a smile of approval :) that story always made me smile
  11. Vic Romano

    Vic Romano Active Member

    Maybe I'm bumping this thread for my own purposes, but it makes me wonder if Disney's recent "experiment" on AGT was premeditated by this same thought. I would love to hear Arnie Esposito's side on this.

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