Whitmire grew up a fan of 'Sesame Street' -- and even received a response from Jim Henson, when he sent him a fan letter at the age of 10. He began performing puppetry at talent competitions, amusement parks and local TV stations. A chance encounter with Jim's wife Jane in Atlanta got him in touch with Jim years later; Henson auditioned him and cast him on 'The Muppet Show,' initially helping out major performers if they had multiple parts in one scene. During this time, he developed his first character, Rizzo the Rat, and became a more integral member of the Muppet team. He performed in all of the major movie and TV programs throughout the 80s and 90s.
After Jim Henson passed away, Whitmire was asked by the Henson family to take over the parts of Kermit the Frog and Ernie. After Richard Hunt's death, he took over the part of Beaker; following the retirement of Jerry Nelson, he took over the part of Statler. Inheriting these new parts have been intimidating challenges for Whitmire, who works to remain respectful to the characters' originators. He still regularly performs with 'Sesame Street' and Muppet productions, including voicing Kermit, among others, in the current Muppet movie.
'The Muppet Show': Rizzo the Rat, Various Muppets
'The Muppet Movie': Kermit the Frog (Assistant on 'Rainbow Connection')
'The Great Muppet Caper': Rizzo the Rat and Lips
'The Dark Crystal': SkekTek the Skeski
'Fraggle Rock': Wembley Fraggle, Sprocket the Dog, Various Fraggles and Doozers
'The Muppets Take Manhattan': Rizzo the Rat
'Labyrinth': Ambrosious the Dog, the Fiery 4
'The Muppet Christmas Carol': Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Bean Bunny, Belinda Crachit, Lips, Sprocket the Dog
'Muppet Treasure Island': Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Various Characters
'The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland': Ernie
'Muppets From Space': Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Bean Bunny
'The Muppets': Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Statler, The Newsman, Link Hogthrob