12 May 1956: Happy Birthday Homer Simpson
In the sixteenth episode of the fourth season of ‘The Simpsons’ we catch a glimpse of Homer Simpson’s driver’s licence. From this shot, we learn some information about the patriarch of the world’s most famous animated family. First is that Homer is six feet tall. But beside that tidbit, we also learn Homer’s age.
Born on the 12th of May 1956, Homer was 36 years old on the date the episode ‘Duffless’ aired. While ‘The Simpsons’ may be on its 34th season this year, Homer hasn’t officially aged a day. Male pattern baldness may have enshrined his looks, but lay the blame at animation magic for his retained youth.
In fact, today is Homer Simpson’s 67th birthday. As the longest-running American animated series, sitcom and primetime television series at nearly 750 episodes, we thought that it would be fun to have a little look through some fun facts about one of the most recognisable fathers in TV.
The creation of Homer
Homer Simpson was directly inspired by Simpsons creator Matt Groenig ’s own father, who had been named after the Ancient Greek poet. In 1987, Groenig was hired to animate shorts for ‘The Tracey Ullman Show’.
For the third episode, Groenig created ‘Good Night’. Featuring all five members of the Simpsons immediate family, Homer and his wife Marge put their children to bed in the two-minute short. There would be a total of 48 Ullman shorts before Groenig was commissioned to produce a whole show around his quirky yellow family.
Devil’s in the detail
Homer has been redesigned multiple times to define the character’s silhouette from his original feature in ‘Good Night’. What has remained across all the designs though are a few tell-tale winks at the character’s creator.
Homer’s hairline represents an “M” and his right ear represents a “G”, Matt Groenig’s initials. His beard is also unique, Groenig ensured only Homer, his father, Lenny and Krusty the Clown have the same round beard line, instead of a more typical moustache and mutton chop look. Also, in early episodes, animators played around with adding eyebrows, but Groenig wasn’t a fan of the look.
Voice of an angel
Ever since that first Ullman short, Homer has been voiced by American actor Dan Castellaneta. Also lending his talents to multiple other characters, Castellaneta is also the voice of Abraham "Grampa" Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Sideshow Mel, Groundskeeper Willie, Mayor Quimby, and Hans Moleman; as well as providing voice work for the shows ‘Futurama’ and ‘Hey Arnold!’.
To get the voice right, Castellaneta drops his chin right down to his chest, moves his register down and also lets “his IQ go”. For the extensive sessions as Homer, Castellaneta stays in character to help him visualise the scene.