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True, the ones that provide the laughs and the memorable quotes on The Simpsons are characters with names such as Homer, Bart, Lisa, Apu, Milhouse, and Mr. Burns. However, it's easy to forget that there are several faces behind their voices, and there are even more people that animate the characters, write their humorous lines, and produce the episodes of the show. Here you can read about the people who bring The Simpsons to life.

[ The Real Stars Of The Simpsons: Hank Azaria | James L. Brooks | Nancy Cartwright | Dan Castellaneta | Alf Clausen | Matt Groening | Phil Hartman | Pamela Hayden | Al Jean | Julie Kavner | Tress MacNeille | Harry Shearer | David Silverman | Yeardley Smith | Russi Taylor ]


Date Of Birth & Location: April 25, 1964, Queens, New York, USA

Voices He Does: Apu, Moe, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, Carl, Dr. Nick, Snake, Kirk Van Houten, Captain McCallister, Bumblebee Man, Superintendent Chalmers, Professor Frink, Cletus, Akira, Disco Stu, Drederick Tatum, Gabbo, Frank Grimes, and many others

Filmography: [ Actor | Producer ]

Biography: Without a doubt, Hank Azaria has become the most visible cast member outside of the show with his roles in "The Birdcage," "Along Came Polly," "The Smurfs," "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," and "Tuesdays with Morrie" alongside the late Jack Lemmon. Hank was also once a regular along with fellow Simpsons cast member Yeardley Smith on "Herman's Head" (in fact, it was an episode in which their characters slept together that supposedly turned off viewers).

Hank trained at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, and played the title role in a production of "Hamlet" at Columbia University. He continued his theater studies at Tufts University, where he appeared in productions of numerous plays. He subsequently moved to Los Angeles, where he further honed his skills under the direction of Roy London. He experimented in improvisation and sketch comedy, becoming a favorite at local comedy clubs, and won a DramaLogue Award for his work in the play "Conspicuous Consumption."

Azaria also starred as psychiatrist Craig "Huff" Huffstodt in the television series "Huff," for which he also served as a producer. The show ran for two seasons from 2004-2006, garnering seven Emmy nominations in 2005 including a nomination for Azaria for "Best Actor in a Drama Series."


Date Of Birth & Location: May 9, 1940, Brooklyn, New York, USA

Simpsons Role: Executive Producer, Writer, Creative Consultant

Filmography: [ Writer | Producer | Additional Crew ]

Biography: One of the few producer/director/writers to handle both movie and TV assignments with equal success, James L. Brooks was born in New Jersey and spent his college years in New York City. The creator (or co-creator) of hit TV shows "Room 222" (1969-74), "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (1970-77), and "Taxi" (1978-83), the multi-talented Brooks made his feature-film debut writing, producing, and directing "Terms of Endearment," which won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay - not a bad way to start a film career. His long suit is character delineation (possibly a by-product of his extensive work in episodic TV), which was amply demonstrated in his handling of the three principal, sympathetic but not totally likable characters of "Broadcast News," Oscar nominated for Best Picture and Best Screenplay.

It wasn't until 1994 that he wrote and directed another feature: "I'll Do Anything." Not that he hadn't been busy; his company produced "The Tracey Ullman Show" and its wildly successful animated spinoff, The Simpsons. Brooks also produced "Big" starring Tom Hanks, "Jerry Maguire" starring Tom Cruise, and in 1997 he had a major success with the Jack Nicholson/Helen Hunt vehicle "As Good As It Gets," a sentimental comedy that provided both Hunt and Nicholson best acting kudos from the Oscars and Golden Globe ceremonies. The film won a Golden Globe for Best Picture.

James L. Brooks was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1997.


Date Of Birth & Location: October 25, 1957, Dayton, Ohio, USA

Website: NancyCartwright.com

Autobiography: "My Life as a 10-Year-Old Boy"

Voices She Does: Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, Kearney, Database, and others

Filmography: [ Actress ]

Biography: An Emmy Award-winning actress and voice-over artist, Nancy Cartwright has been making waves in the entertainment community since the age of 12. Best known as the spiky-headed 10 year-old, Bart Simpson, Nancy continues to cultivate her talents on-stage and on-camera as well as voicing many popular characters in animation.

After moving to Los Angeles and enrolling in UCLA, she began studying with Daws Butler, the legendary voice of Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound and others. Nancy herself has voiced hundreds of characters in such favorites as "Richie Rich," "Pound Puppies," "My Little Pony," "Glo-Friends," "Animaniacs," "The Pink Panther," "Pinky and The Brain," "The Critic," and "Toonsylvania." While establishing herself as a voice-over professional, Nancy balanced it with an on-camera career. Some more memorable roles include, those on "Fame," "Marian Rose White," "Empty Nest," "Cheers," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Twilight Zone: The Movie," "Flesh and Blood," "A Tangled Web" and "Suddenly."

After receiving numerous rave reviews, Nancy received the prestigious "Drama-Logue Award" for her performance in her one-woman play, "In Search of Fellini." The play was adapted to the screen under her "Happy House Productions" banner. Additionally, Nancy has routinely published her own newsletter, The Nancy News, which you can read on nancycartwright.com. Unlike the Simpsons character she's famous for, Nancy is anything but an underachiever.

Date Of Birth & Location: October 29, 1957, Oak Park, Illinois, USA

Voices He Does: Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, Mayor Quimby, Hans Moleman, Sideshow Mel, Itchy, Arnie Pie, Kodos, Louie, Luigi the Italian Chef, Gil, and many others

Filmography: [ Actor | Producer ]

Biography: A 1975 graduate of Oak Park High School, Dan Castellaneta was honored with Emmy Awards in 1992 and 1993 as the voice of Homer and many others on The Simpsons. At first, for the voice of Homer, Dan tried to imitate Walter Matthau, but he had trouble with certain emotional registers and intonations with the voice, so he slightly changed the present voice of Homer beginning at the beginning of the second season of The Simpsons. In addition, his voice characterization of Krusty the Clown on was based on Chicago television legend Bob Bell who portrayed WGN-TV's Bozo from 1960 to 1984. His tremendous voice-over talent has given life to Genie in the successful animated television series "Aladdin," based on the hit movie, as well as the second sequel, "Return of Jaffar."

Castellaneta's television films include the Emmy Award-winning "Hand in the Glove" and the remake of Disney's "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes." On stage, Castellaneta performed for four years with the famous Chicago Improvisational group The Second City. Classical stage credits include "Taming of the Shrew," "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Macbeth." In 1991, he played the offbeat underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar in "American Splendor" in Los Angeles. In 1992 and 1993 he performed with his wife, Deb Lacusta, in "Deb and Dan's Show" at different clubs in Santa Monica. He won a Drama League Award for his performance in "Tom and Jerry" as part of the Met Theater's 1994 One Act Festival.

His feature film work includes "Nothing in Common," "K9," "War of the Roses," "Space Jam," "Forget Paris," and "My Giant." In addition, Dan starred in his one man play entitled "Where Did Vincent Van Gogh," voices the Robot Devil in "Futurama" episodes and movies, and has written Simpsons episodes including "Days of Wine and D'oh'ses" (co-written with his wife) and "Gump Roast."


Date Of Birth & Location: March 28, 1941, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Simpsons Role: Composer

Website: AlfClausen.com

Filmography: [ Composer ]

Biography: Alf Clausen grew up in Jamestown, North Dakota. Despite his musical inclinations (he played piano, was a French hornist in his school band, and sang in his school choir) he enrolled at North Dakota State University majoring in mechanical engineering. One summer, he traveled to New York City to visit his cousin - a professional pianist in Manhattan. It was there that Alf decided that he was destined for the musical life. Upon his return to North Dakota, he switched his major to music theory and would eventually head off to Berklee College of Music in Boston for more in-depth studies. He taught at Berklee for a year after his graduation, then moved to Los Angeles where he found work as a bassist, copyist, teacher, arranger, and a ghost composer (for Las Vegas night-club acts, commercial jingles, and the likes). An emergency call from a friend landed Alf his first work for "Donny and Marie," and from there the doors started slowly opening up. Alf's contributions to The Simpsons are too numerous to mention. The show provided him the opportunity to score realistic drama, overblown comedy, gritty urban jazz, Broadway-worthy show tunes, and some of the most clever & loving parodies of television news themes, 1970's action music, and feature film scores ever done. Alf has proved beyond a doubt that television scoring is not the vast wasteland it is often purported to be and that an intelligent composer can take even the most demanding shows and elevate them to new heights.

Date Of Birth & Location: February 15, 1954, Portland, Oregon, USA

Simpsons Role: Creator, Writer, Executive Producer, Creative Consultant

Filmography: [ Writer | Producer | Animation Department ]

Biography: Best known as creator of The Simpsons, the son of Homer and Margaret Groening made television history by bringing animation back to prime time and creating an immortal nuclear family. Originally brought to life in 1987 for Fox's Emmy Award-winning series "The Tracey Ullman Show," The Simpsons was Matt Groening's introduction into the animation world.

Groening is also well known for his weekly "Life in Hell" cartoon strip, an irreverent portrayal of life's daily preoccupations that debuted in 1977. "Life in Hell" appeared in more than 200 newspapers around the world prior to the strip ending in 2012.

In addition to previously producing his weekly strip, maintaining the production demands of The Simpsons, overseeing all aspects of Simpsons licensing and merchandising, as well as serving as publisher of Bongo Comics Group, Groening was the creator and executive producer of the Fox series "Futurama," an animated look into the 30th century. "Futurama" aired on Fox from 1999 to 2003 and on Comedy Central from 2008 to 2013 before ceasing production. In recent years, Groening created and developed the animated fantasy sitcom "Disenchantment," which has aired on Netflix since 2018.

Groening, a native of Portland, Oregon, resides in Los Angeles.

Date Of Birth & Location: September 24, 1948, Brantford, Ontario, Canada

Died: May 28, 1998, Encino, Los Angeles, California, USA

Voices He Did: Troy McClure, Lionel Hutz, Lyle Lanley, and Evan Conover

Filmography: [ Actor | Writer ]

Biography: Born in Canada, Phil's family moved to the United States when he was ten years old, and he spent the remainder of his childhood in Connecticut and Southern California. He originally studied graphic design at California State University and designed album covers for such bands as Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. In 1975, Phil joined the comedy troupe The Groundlings in California, and realized that he had a knack for comedy. The Groundlings is where he met Paul Reubens, who became a best friend throughout his entire career. Together, they created the character Pee-wee Herman. Phil also met friend Jon Lovitz while with The Groundlings. In 1986, Phil joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" and became an instant favorite. He was on the show for eight seasons, which was the record he and Kevin Nealon shared until Tim Meadows later broke it. In 1995, Phil left SNL and went on to star in the critically acclaimed show, "NewsRadio," in which he portrayed the cocky, arrogant radio host Bill McNeal. Phil also starred in movies including "Houseguest", "Jingle All The Way", "Greedy" and "Small Soldiers."

Although Phil was originally brought in for a one-time appearance on The Simpsons, Hartman enjoyed working on the show and the staff wrote additional parts for him. His favorite part was that of Troy McClure, and he often used this voice to entertain the audience between takes while taping episodes of "NewsRadio." He remarked, "My favorite fans are Troy McClure fans." He added "It's the one thing that I do in my life that's almost an avocation. I do it for the pure love of it." At the time of his death, Phil was preparing to voice Zapp Brannigan, a character written specifically for him on Futurama. After Hartman's death, Futurama's lead character Philip J. Fry was named in his honor.

The late Phil Hartman, who was taken away from us far too soon, is and always will be dearly missed by his family, his friends, and his numerous fans.

Date Of Birth & Location: November 28, 1953, USA

Voices She Does: Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, Janey Powell, Sarah Wiggum, and others

Filmography: [ Actress ]

Biography: Most recognized for voicing Milhouse on our favorite television show, she has performed live stage shows with the Simpsons cast at the HBO Comedy Festival in Aspen, Colorado, at the Edinburgh Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, and at Playhouse Theatre in London, England. Pamela has a varied background performing in theatre, television, film, and voice-overs. Her feature film work includes the lead role in the independent feature "Bring Me Your Love"; television credits include appearances in "Television's Funniest Women: A Museum of Television and Radio Tribute," "A Family of Winners," the PBS Special entitled "Blinded," and Fox's "Schimmel." Pamela has performed stand-up in various Los Angeles nightclubs and USO shows. Her stage credits include the role of Ann in "Amos & Ann" in which she received an L.A. Weekly Drama Award; and, the role of Roberta in "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea," among others. Her autobiographical dramedy, "Send Chocolate & Marlboros," was Pamela's foray into solo work.


Date Of Birth & Location: January 9, 1961, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Simpsons Role: Showrunner, Executive Producer, Writer

Filmography: [ Producer | Writer | Additional Crew ]

Biography: Whether you know his name or not, it's very likely that Al Jean has tickled your funny bone on more than one occasion. After a writing stint on the popular sitcom "ALF," and serving as a producer for Showtime's acclaimed series "It's Garry Shandling's Show," Al made a move that would change his life through the 1990s and beyond - Al moved to Springfield.

Winner of several Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award for his work on The Simpsons, Al is responsible for such fan favorite episodes as "Lisa's Pony," "The Way We Was," and "Lisa's Sax," among the myriad of other episodes he's written and produced.

An executive producer and the showrunner for The Simpsons since 2001, Al also helped to produce "The Critic," "Teen Angel," and "The PJs" in the 1990s.

Date Of Birth & Location: September 7, 1950, Los Angeles, California, USA

Voices She Does: Marge Simpson, Patty, Selma, Jacqueline Bouvier, and others

Filmography: [ Actress ]

Biography: Kavner's distinctive voice, described by one writer as "creaking like a gate hinge in need of oiling," gives the impression of a veteran New Yorker, but in fact Kavner was born and raised in southern California. She made her acting debut as Valerie Harper's kid sister on the popular TV sitcom "Rhoda" (1974-78), winning an Emmy for her work, but after the show's demise she fell out of the public eye. Her movie debut, in 1981's "National Lampoon Goes to the Movies" went unseen when that film was shelved.

Then Woody Allen gave her a juicy part in "Hannah and Her Sisters," and she became part of his repertory company, blossoming in "Radio Days" and "New York Stories." She also appeared in smaller roles for Allen in "Alice"," "Shadows and Fog," and "Deconstructing Harry." Her other credits include "Doctor Dolittle," "Bad Medicine," "Surrender," "Awakenings" as Robin Williams' faithful nurse, and a starring role in 1992's "This Is My Life" as a hard-working single mom who finds fulfillment as a standup comic.

Date Of Birth & Location: June 20, 1951, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Voices She Does: Dolph, Brandine, Agnes Skinner, Crazy Cat Lady, and many others

Filmography: [ Actress ]

Biography: Tress MacNeille is one of the most talented women in the voice-over industry to date. Her versatile talent has done the voices of Dot Warner in "Animaniacs," Babs Bunny from "Tiny Toon Adventures," and she was a featured singer in the Weird "Al" Yankovic song "Ricky." She also appeared in a small part in the full-length motion picture "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark."

Tress was nominated for the 1995 Annie Award for "Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting in the Field of Animation" (for Dot Warner) as well as the 1997 Annie Award for "Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting by a Female in a Television Production" (for Debbie Douglas in "Freakazoid"). Tress did several voices in "Futurama," including the voice of Mom, and is the current voice of Daisy Duck and Wilma Flintstone.


Date Of Birth & Location: December 23, 1943, Los Angeles, California, USA

Website: HarryShearer.com

Voices He Does: Mr. Burns, Smithers, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Otto, Reverend Lovejoy, Dr. Hibbert, Kent Brockman, Jasper, Lenny, Eddie, Rainier Wolfcastle (McBain), Scratchy, Kang, Dr. Marvin Monroe, Herman, Jebediah Springfield, and many others

Filmography: [ Actor | Writer ]

Biography: California native Harry Shearer was one of the busier child actors of the 1950s. He appeared in such films as "The Robe" (as the boy David) and "Abbott and Costello Go to Mars"; he could be heard on such radio programs as "Suspense," "Lux Radio Theatre" and "The Jack Benny Show"; and among his many TV guest roles was the character who would evolve into Eddie Haskell in the 1955 "Leave It to Beaver" pilot. After attending UCLA, Shearer flourished as a standup comedian and comedy writer. He was frequently employed on the writing staff for TV comedies such as "Laverne and Shirley" and "America 2Night"; he also worked both sides of the camera in the 1984 rockumentary parody "This is Spinal Tap," co-starring as rock idol Harry Smalls and co-writing the script with director Rob Reiner and fellow cast members Christopher Guest and Michael McKean. In league with another top satirist, Albert Brooks, Shearer concocted the screenplay for another faux documentary, 1979's "Real Lampoon." During the 1984-85 TV season, Shearer joined NBC's "Saturday Night Live." However, he left SNL in January 1985 over "creative differences." When reached for comment over the nature of his departure, Shearer replied "I was creative; they were different."

After supplying his voice to The Simpsons, he has hosted and co-written a weekly syndicated radio comedy potpourri, Le Show, since 1992. The show airs on public radio stations throughout the country and is also offered as a podcast. Shearer is the regular announcer for TV Land and, since May 2005, has been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post.


Date Of Birth & Location: March 15, 1957, Long Island, New York, USA

Simpsons Role: Consulting Producer, Former Animation Director & Title Designer, "Simpsons Movie" Director

Filmography: [ Producer | Director | Additional Crew ]

Biography: A major in animation at UCLA, David Silverman was there for the very beginning of The Simpsons. He was one of two directors working on the show during its stint as a series of shorts on "The Tracey Ullman Show," and continued on with the series once it went on to episodic television. Silverman was also responsible for the original transition between Matt Groening’s original version of the family to a standardized, model-sheet version that all animators could work from. He remained with the show for several years, leaving in 1996 to direct DreamWorks' "The Road to El Dorado." A brief stint at DreamWorks soon led him to Pixar Animation Studios, best known for their computer animated features such as "Toy Story." While at Pixar, he co-directed 2001's smash-hit, "Monsters Inc." However, he eventually returned to his roots to direct 2007's "The Simpsons Movie."


Full Name: Martha Maria Yeardley Smith

Date Of Birth & Location: July 3, 1964, Paris, France

Voice She Does: Lisa Simpson

Filmography: [ Actress | Producer ]

Biography: Yeardley Smith is one of those actresses whose voice and presence are so distinctive that with luck and talent they can work forever peppering up scenes, playing solid supporting roles and bouncing from medium to medium, always a pleasure for the audience to see. Short, moon-faced and possessing a voice that sounds as if a little girl has been eating ice cubes, Smith garnered fame as Lisa, Bart's younger sister, on The Simpsons, a role she first created when the cartoon family appeared as animated segments on "The Tracey Ullman Show." Along with five other cast members, she received a 1992 Emmy Award for her voice-over performance.

Smith began her career at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC, and by 1984, was appearing in the Broadway production of Tom Stoppard's award-winning "The Real Thing." That same year, she made her TV debut in ABC's "Mom's On Strike" and soon began appearing on other shows, including several episodes of the syndicated "The New Gidget". On the big screen, Smith played a friend's kid sister who joins Helen Slater and Christian Slater in a crime spree in "The Legend of Billie Jean." She was a rival debate team member attempting to top Kirk Cameron and Jamie Gertz in 1989's "Listen to Me" and had one particularly memorable scene in "City Slickers" as a supermarket check-out clerk. Smith also lent her vivacious presence before the camera as office assistant Louise Fitzer on the sitcom "Herman's Head" (Fox, 1991-94) and also co-starred in "Toys" and "Just Write." In 2010, Yeardley starred alongside Colin Hanks, Adrien Brody, and Michael Chiklis in "High School."

Date Of Birth & Location: May 4, 1944, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Died: July 26, 2019, Glendale, California, USA

Voices She Did: Martin Prince, Uter, Sherri, Terri, Lewis, Wendell, and others

Filmography: [ Actress ]

Biography: Russi voiced characters in many Saturday morning cartoon shows, such as "The Smurfs," "Muppet Babies," "My Little Pony," and "DuckTales." Her voice also showed up in multiple movies, such as "Babe" and "A Bug's Life." Her husband was Wayne Allwine (pictured with Russi), who was the voice of Disney's Mickey Mouse from 1977 until his death in 2009. Coincidentally enough, Russi voiced Minnie Mouse from 1986 until her death in 2019. We will miss you, Russi & Wayne!