The online auction includes items that have been donated from Steve Whitmire's private collection of Jim Henson-related memorabilia gathered throughout more than 36 years as a core performer in nearly every Muppet project produced for numerous television series, theatrical motion pictures, television specials, and albums. All auction proceeds go toward the funding of the new Museum, which will house the Jim Henson Collection at the Center for Puppetry Arts.
Although Whitmire currently performs Kermit the Frog, for 23 years he portrayed Sesame Street's Ernie, both of which were originated and performed by Henson prior to his untimely death in 1990. Other characters include playing Statler and Beaker (originally performed by Richard Hunt) and Whitmire's primary original Muppet characters Rizzo the Rat, Lips the trumpet player, Miss Piggy's dog Foo-Foo from The Muppet Show, Wembley Fraggle, Sprocket the Dog, Marlon Fraggle, Flange Doozer from Fraggle Rock, Bean Bunny, Flash and Waldo C. Graphic from The Jim Henson Hour, Andy Pig and Mr. Poodlepants from Muppets Tonight, and Jake the Polar Bear from Jim Henson's Animal Show with Stinky and Jake. Aside from these, he has performed dozens of others from various productions, including Robbie Sinclair and B.P. Richfield from the television series Dinosaurs and various roles in the feature films Dreamchild, Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal.
The first lot of the online auction is now open for bidding and will be available for sale until 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014.
Some lots were mass-produced pop culture items, while others are incredibly rare and only released to those directly involved in various productions. Most groups of items include at least one item autographed by Whitmire.
Auction proceeds will benefit the Center for Puppetry Arts' highly anticipated renovation and expansion plans. The project, set to be completed in 2015, will include a new museum to house the world's most comprehensive collection of Jim Henson's puppets and artifacts, along with its Global Collection of puppets. Project highlights also include a new library and archival space, a renovated entryway and many other upgrades to existing spaces that will ultimately enhance the experience for Center for Puppetry Arts' visitors.
"Since it opened in 1978, Jim Henson loved and supported the Center for Puppetry Arts throughout his life," says Whitmire. "Thanks to him, I'm fortunate to be able to not only have this amazing career but to share in the legacy of his life's work. I hope that by donating all of this fun Henson-related Muppet stuff to the Center for auction, I can help them to build their future. I think Jim would have loved that!"
CLICK HERE for more information on the auction and how to support the Center for Puppetry Arts' Museum Expansion