After the death of Jim Henson in 1990, some reports claimed that Jim Henson's son, Brian Henson, would be the one carrying on the character of Kermit the Frog. This was an incorrect assumption based partly on Brian's puppeteering experience and that he had taken on many of his father's business roles when he was named president, chairman, and chief executive officer of Jim Henson Productions.
However, Brian Henson did not perform the character of Kermit the Frog after his father's passing. To this day,[note 1] many people still hold the sentimental notion that Jim Henson's son took over the role after his father's death. Despite this, it is in fact veteran Muppet performer Steve Whitmire who took over the role of Kermit in 1990. Whitmire's first appearance as Kermit was in The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson and he continues to perform Kermit to this day.
Jane Henson reflected on the recasting of Kermit, in a 1990 interview:
- "When Jim was alive, he said if anything happened to him, Kermit must go on right away. Because of Kermit's significant place, Jim had essentially chosen who he thought could do it. But we don't want to say who it is before the show."
Whitmire commented on Henson's consideration of him performing Kermit saying:
- "I have been told that Jim had said something about it to Frank... He never said that to me, but I heard that through somebody that it had been talked about... The actual time I was asked was by Brian. We were in Disney World for something. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but I think it was the big tribute they did for Jim, and we went down for that. While we were there, one night I went over and met with Jane Henson, Brian, and Frank; and Brian mentioned me doing it. I was just overwhelmed by the request. It was a huge honor, and it also just scared the daylights out of me."
While other entertainers have continued the legendary characters originated by their parents (such as Mallory Lewis taking over Lamb Chop following the death of her mother, Shari Lewis), Brian Henson did not inherit any of his father's characters (with the exception of briefly performing the Newsman in 2001's The Muppet Show Live). Jim Henson's Muppet characters were instead recast to other puppeteers — mainly Steve Whitmire (Kermit, Ernie, Link and the Newsman) and Bill Barretta (Rowlf, Dr. Teeth, The Swedish Chef, and Mahna Mahna); additionally, Dave Goelz has taken over the role of Waldorf and Eric Jacobson has taken on Guy Smiley.