Meet the real stars behind the show and read their stories!
The Simpsons is the longest running animated adult sitcom. With over 500 episodes, The Simpsons, which started just as a series of animated shorts seen during The Tracey Ullman Show, has shown that cartoons are not for children only. But what we see on TV for half-an-hour is the diligence of an indefatigable team of now celebrated voice-overs, creative animators, well revered script writers, beautiful orchestra team and of course the man who brought his family on TV: Matt Groening. We all have met the Simpsons, but now let us actually meet the Simpsons:
1. Daniel Louis "Dan" Castellaneta
Homer J. Simpson: Yes he is the man: Homer J. Simpson. He is the voice behind the most loved first man of Simpson’s family.
The Story: Homer J. Simpsons or Homer was born only after Dan saw his cartoon version. Having seen a fat yellow man with no chin, Dan first tried to imitate the voice and does so successfully. The fact that Dan is the voice behind Homer may seem unique and incredible, but if you keep on reading this blog, more surprises are on your way.
The story of D’Oh!!: Originally scripted as “Annoying Grunt”, Dan used his own experience to transform any other boring annoying grunt to most followed, D’oh!! Dan got this idea from one of the characters of Laurel and Hardy show, James Finlayson. The D’oh should be actually read as Damn, which even in original show was pronounced as D’oh to avoid cursing on television.
Abraham ‘Grampa’ Simpson: “I am evil, I tells ya, I am evilll!!”, “We all know Grampa!”, “I just want attention!” The Simpsons family is not complete without this old and rambling old member. Living in Springfield Retirement Castle, Grampa Simpson is voiced by this versatile voice actor.
The Story: Talking about Grampa Simpson, Dan tells a story about his sister who caught a voice of an old woman when she was a child. Dan and his sister used to do old people and Dan used this voice in the show.
Krusty the Clown: “Hey Kids! Muahahah”, a pioneer entertainer, successful businessman and shrewd opportunist is voiced by Dan.
The Story: Dan mentions a story about Krusty the Clown and says that this was the voice of a clown called “Rusty” the Clown. The character founds its origin from that haze voiced clown.
Barney Gumble: Barney Gumble is the “always drunk” citizen of the Springfield. Barney has been shown in many episodes to have many talents, but he himself wastes all of them by just drinking at Moe’s.
The Story: Dan came up with his voice after listening to Mr Magoo. Barney Gumble resembles Waldo, Mr Magoo’s nephew in the show who was voiced by another veteran voice actor Late Charles Dawson "Daws" Butler (the voice of Yogi Bear). This was the major portion of Barney’s onscreen voice.
Mayor Quimby: The beautiful character of The Simpsons who is personification of nepotism is one of the frequently recurring characters of the show. Mayor Quimby is the revered Mayor of Springfield and again is speaking because of Dan.
The Story: The voice of Mayor Quimby was result of the character description given by the script: a Kennedy type politician (voice wise). Dan thus tries to imitate the Late First Man of USA after watching the records of the First Family.
2. Julie Kavner
In simple words, she represents the entire Bouvier family: Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, Selma Bouvier and Jacqueline Bouvier. With a little modulation in her voice, Julie produces four different sets of similarly sounding voices. Being she a cast of The Tracey Ullman Show, Julie was voice casted for The Simpsons which was running as animated shorts during the show.
3. Yeardley Smith
She is the voice behind only one character in the show: intelligent, geopolitically active, peace loving and saxophone playing Lisa Simpson.
The Story: She was originally reached for doing the voice of Bart Simpson, but was rejected as her voice was more suited for a girl. Hence, now she successfully portrays Lisa Simpson.
4. Harry Shearer
“Okilly-dokilly!” “Who is that guy, Smithers?” “Harry Shearer, sir. One of the most talented voice over actors from Simpsons.” “Simpsons, eh?” A really talented man, Shearer has given life to many a character for the most wanted state inhabitants. Following are the characters that he portrays:
Ned Flanders: The hard-core follower of Christianity, Ned Flanders is the next-door neighbour of Homer. Ned Flanders was not a challenge for Shearer as he had to imagine a suave and well-mannered Christian who is friendly and a family guy.
Charles Mothgomery Burns (Mr. Burns): The sheepish and whispering voice of Mr. Burns was a challenge for Shearer. Shearer had to do some preparation to bring this character to reality.
The Story: He said that he used two voices as inspiration: one of Ronald Reagan and the other of Lionel Barrymore. Still, the voice had to be a little sheepish and unique, which actually hurts him to produce.
Waylon Smithers: Secretary of Mr. Burns who is famous for being always there for Mr. Burns and sometimes in really very odd way… (But as Seinfeld says “Not that I hold anything against it”). The voice of Smithers seems much closer to Lionel Barrymore, but Shearer never mentioned that.
Principal Skinner: Principal Skinner is the Principal of Springfield Elementary School. He is one of the nemeses of Bart Simpson (not a mortal enemy though). He has been shown to have many histories.
5. Nancy Cartwright
“¡Ay, caramba!” “Haw Haw”. Nancy Cartwright is really a talented voice actor who voices probably the most loved menacing boy. Nancy has a story to tell regarding her role as Bart Simpson. Nelson Muntz and Todd Flanders are some other voices that she has given to the World. This blog will tell the tale of Bart Simpson and a little about Nelson Muntz.
Bart Simpson: One of the major characters of The Simpsons, Bart is voiced by Nancy Cartwright.
The Story: Nancy was reached by Matt to voice Lisa Simpson. Her voice was found unsuitable for the same. She was then asked to voice Bart… first take: Bang On!! She was immediately finalized for Bart Simpson. It is really incredible that the voice of Bart is not voiced by a male child but by Nancy. This really is shear talent.
b. Nelson Muntz: A recurring character in the show, Muntz is famous for his iconic laugh: “Haw Haw”.
c. Ralph Wiggum: The really unique character of The Simpsons. He is unique because he doesn’t have any prominent storyline. He pops up and then says something related to mathematics and then goes out. He is shown as a curious person, who picks nose and wets his pants.
6. Hank Azaria
The widely talented Hank Azaria is our next and final voice over actor in the list. A very talented man, who has many voices and can mimic the likes of Al Pacino and Stallone, has done many voices in the show including Moe the bartender, Apu, Comic Book Guy and Chief Wiggum.
Moe Szyslak: Popularly known as the Moe the Bartender, he has been a very important part of the Springfield, chiefly because it is a place of solace for Homer and a place of angels for Barney.
The Story: Hank says that Moe is his darker side. Chiefly because he himself was a bartender once. The story is that he was called by the studios for audition of Moe the Bartender. He was at that time playing a mafia in one play and was trying to sound like Al Pacino (remember Godfather?). He says that Moe the Bartender is poor version of old Al Pacino voice.
Apu Nahasapeemapetilon: The owner of Kwik E-Mart is also voiced by Hank.
The Story: As Hank has confirmed, the inspiration for this character was the character played by Peter Sellers in the film The Party.
Chief Wiggum's Story: Chief Wiggum character was inspired by one of the Hollywood legends, Edward G. Robinson. Hank admits that Chief Wiggum not accurately resembles Robinson but he is a poor version of the legend.
The Comic Book Guy's Story: Comic Book Guy, according to Hank, was inspired by his next door neighbour guy during his freshmen year. He himself was a unique character, having a list of his favourite and most hated people scribbled on his board behind the door.
7. Matt Groening
And now last but not the least in anyway, Matt Groening, the ‘Bart’ of the show.
The Story: Matt is a very talented cartoonist of this age. After successfully creating the dark comedy, “Life is Hell”, Matt received a call from James L Brookes, who was impressed by his earlier works. Matt was getting late and hence created a family with a man, his wife and their three children. Now the problem was the names and hence, without wasting any time, he named them after his own family members. Homer is the name of Matt’s father, Maggie and Lisa are his sisters and his mother’s name is Margaret. Thus, Matt named his reel family after his real family.
I know that everyone enjoys The Simpsons and I am sure they will keep enjoying the show in the time to come. But it is the efforts of these people who have made the Simpsons what it is today.