The Simpsons remains America’s longest-running sitcom and the longest-running primetime American scripted television series.
The animated series, launched in December 1989, depicts Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta), his wife Marge (Julie Kavner) and their three children’s daily lives and antics: Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Lisa (Yeardley Smith) and baby Maggie, who rarely speaks because of her attachment to her pacifier.
The Simpsons had numerous A-list stars in guest roles, after more than 30 years on the air and still very successful.
Celebrities such as Meryl Streep, Michael Jackson and Dustin Hoffman lent their voices to the series, as well as an iconic actor who, after sounding a little too sultry, had to do multiple takes.
Still flocking to ‘The Simpsons’ A-listers
The show’s producer and writer Mike Reiss recounted in his 2018 book, Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons, that the series recruited celebrities from day one.
“If Wikipedia is to be believed, The Simpsons had 725 guest stars in its first 26 seasons,” Reiss wrote. “Guest stars have been a part of the show since the pilot, when Penny Marshall played the babysitter Bandit.”
For the series, top names voicing characters are not restricted to film and television, with talent from a range of genres offering to be part of the legacy of “The Simpsons”
The Simpsons ‘: classic episodes that you ought to watch on Disney+
The acting world (Glenn Close), music (three of the Beatles), science (Stephen Hawking), literature (J.K. Rowling), comedy (Joan Rivers) and tragedy (J.K. Rowling) were our guest stars (Jon Lovitz).
Even serious actors were there who were really funny (Richard Dean Anderson from MacGyver).
And the best part was that there were guests who were like them (Larry King, who spoke about bagels to me for 20 minutes).
Elizabeth Taylor said the word ‘Maggie’ for the first time
Elizabeth Taylor, the Academy Award winner and Hollywood legend, agreed in 1992 to lend The Simpsons her voice. In the role of little Maggie, Taylor had only one word of dialogue.
“Liz created the biggest buzz of any guest we’ve ever had on the show,” Reiss revealed. “Three hundred people filled our time studio to hear her take on her one-word role: ‘Daddy.'”
Taylor was known for her sultry personality, which also came out in her limited scene.
“She had to do six takes because, as you can imagine, it always came across as too sexy,” Reiss explained. “We had to remind her that she’s a baby who’s talking to her father and not hitting on him.
Oscar winner has a crush on someone on the ‘Simpsons’ team
Apparently, a member of the behind-the-scenes team of ‘The Simpsons’ had his eye on Taylor while she was on set.
“Liz made a pass at a guy in the crowded room – our animation supervisor, David Silverman,” Reiss recalls. “‘Who’s that? ” she purred. Silverman was the handsomest guy in the room, but compared to the Simpsons writers, Paul Giamatti would have won that award, too.”
Reiss revealed the real reason the show’s producers and writers go for guest stars.
“Why do we take guest stars in the first place?” The Simpsons producer pointed out. “After all, our cast can imitate anyone in the world. … The truth is, we often write guest stars in to meet our idols.
The writers have used the show to invite all their comedy heroes: Eric Idle, Rodney Dangerfield, Albert Brooks, Mel Brooks, Jerry and Richard Lewis.”
One factor often doesn’t entice superstars to take on a role. “No celebrity does The Simpsons for the money,” Reiss says.