Ryan Dosier – Steve Whitmire, the legendary performer of Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Wembley Fraggle, Ernie, and other Muppets, has been a crucial part of the Muppet team since 1977. The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Georgia has been an integral part of the puppetry community since 1978. The two go hand in hand, as Steve is from Atlanta, and has visited and supported the Center for many, many years.
Speaking with Steve on the phone yesterday, he relayed that “Jim [Henson] was a major supporter of the Center. He was there when it opened, and went back several other times. I went with him a few times for special performances and presentations. It’s a wonderful place.” Back in March, Steve confided in me his plan to donate and auction off hundreds of his Muppet collectibles, production gifts, and more that he’s received in his over 30 years with the Muppets.
The auction has finally come to fruition today, with the first lot of Steve’s many, many rare and incredible items going up for bid. Every penny of the auctions go directly to The Center for Puppetry Arts and their efforts to expand and renovate the building, including an unprecedented, officially sanctioned Jim Henson museum section. Yesterday Steve told me, “I just had all of these things gathering dust in the spare bedroom, so when I heard the Center was expanding, I knew just what to do with them.” Among the items in the first lot include exclusive production gifts from The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets From Space, Kermit’s Swamp Years, The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz, The Muppets, and more.
There is nothing about this cause that is not worthwhile; to the buyers or to the Center of Puppetry Arts. All proceeds are directly given to the Center, and some of Steve Whitmire’s personal collection of Muppet goodness could be given to you. Take time to bid, buy, or simply donate to the Center, which is a spectacular place and a true jewel of Muppet history. I know I’ll be buying something! (Also, it’s worth noting that this is merely the FIRST lot of Steve’s goodies, so if you miss out this round, hold out for the next!)