Here's the inspiration behind 22 secondary Simpsons characters
Here's the inspiration behind 22 secondary Simpsons characters
The Simpsons is known for its genius homages to classic film and TV - but did you know that almost every character is inspired by a famous celebrity? It's true. Even the ones you barely notice.
To prove it, we've gathered together 22 secondary Simpsons characters who owe their lives to famous figures from beyond the town of Springfield...
The Capital City Goofball - The Phillie Phanatic
Major League Baseball's Philadelphia Phillies have been fronted by Phillie Phanatic since 1978. They're pretty identical, but for Phanatic's algae-like fur.
Bumblebee Man - Roberto Gómez Bolaños
With his tight red bodysuit and bouncing antennaes, the Mexican comedian 'Chespirito' became a legend in his home country, and inspired everyone's favourite flailing bumble bee.
Duffman - Bud Man
Developed by the Anheuser-Busch company in 1969, Bud Man was the beer-bellied Budweiser mascot and a "Dauntless Defender of Quality".
Moe Szyslak - Louis "Red" Deutsch and Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon and Rich Hall
Bart's incessant prank calls are based on an album of phone calls made in the mid-1970s to the Tube Bar in Jersey City. Bar owner Red Deutsch's often profane responses inspired Moe's violent temper.
Comedian Rich Hall,a friend of Simpsons writer George Meyer, has stated that he believes he inspired the character, and Matt Groening has backed it up.
Moe's voice actor Hank Azaria based the voice on Al Pacino, but has moved away from the impression over time.
Barney Gumble - Frank Fontaine as Crazy Guggenheim on The Jackie Gleason Show
Springfield's resident belcher is based on the bug-eyed, tanked-up character played by Frank Fontaine on The Jackie Gleason show.
The writers decided to create Barney because, according to Matt Groening, there was "a sort of unspoken rule about not having drinking on television as a source of comedy. So, of course, we went right for it."
Rainier Wolfcastle/McBain - Arnold Schwarzennegger
This one's easy. Wolfcastle is a direct and thinly-veiled homage to Arnie. If you piece together all of the Wolfcastle movie clips that are scattered between episodes of The Simpsons, you can actually create a coherent action movie that even Schwarzenegger would be proud of.
Gil Gunderson - Jack Lemon as Shelley Levene in Glengarry Glen Ross
Glengarry Glen Ross' Shelley "The Machine" Levene is, much like Gil, a hopeless loser. Let's not waste time talking about either of them.
Dr. Nick Riviera - Dr. George Nichopoulos
Dr. George Nichopaulos is best known as Elvis Presley's infamous physician - you know, the same Elvis Presley who had a long-running, ultimately fatal obsession with prescription drugs. He was stripped of his credentials in 1995, and spent the rest of his years selling off Elvis memorabilia and showing off the meds he has prescribed for the King of Rock'N'Roll.
Gabbo and Arthur Crandall - Otto and The Great Gabbo
1929's The Great Gabbo centres around an egocentric ventriloquist who's finds himself caught up in a love triangle. His wooden dummy, Otto, becomes sentient and offers advice on winning his beau over.
Captain Lance Murdock - Evel Knievel
Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel was a famous American stunt artist who revolutionised the sport. Despite suffering over 433 bone fractures during his adrenaline-fueled career and risking his life on countless occasions, he died through illness at age 69.
Otto Mann - Wallace Wolodarsky and Slash
Otto's look is based on a mixture of Guns N'Roses guitarist Slash and former Simpsons scribe Wallace Wolodarsky.
Mayor "Diamond" Joe Quimby - The Kennedy Family
Quimby's thick Boston accent is reminiscent of America's most famous political dynasty, particularly that of Ted Kennedy. He's also a Democrat who lives on the coast, and has a heavy schedule of extramarital affairs, much like John F. Kennedy.
Edna Krabappel - June Marlowe as Miss Crabtree on Our Gang
Krabappel's name was chosen by Simpsons writers Wallace Wolodarsky and Jay Kogen as a play on the fruit "crabapple", and as a reference to the teacher Miss Crabtree from the 1930s Our Gang shorts.
Dr. Julius Hibbert - Bill Cosby as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show
With his kooky jumpers and trademark chuckle, Dr. Hibbert is clearly based on Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, Bill Cosby's obstetrician in The Cosby Show.
Bleeding Gums Murphy - LeRoi Moore and Sonny Rollins
His look is based on LeRoi Moore, a founding member of the Dave Matthew's Band, but his life story takes far more inspiration from Sonny Rollins.
Frustrated with his own musical output in the fifties, Rollins took a sabbatical, and began to play his saxophone on the streets. A journalist happened upon him playing, and wrote a famous article about his life for Metronome magazine.
Apu Nahasapeemapetilon - Peter Sellers as Hrundi V. Bakshi in The Party and The Apu Trilogy
Simpsons voice actor Hank Azaria thought that Apu's personality was similar to Peter Sellers' character in The Party, and so based his tone on the character.
Apu's first name is based on the Apu Trilogy by Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray, and his surname is drawn from a student who Simpsons writer Jeff Martin went to college with, called Nahasapema Petilon.
Arnie Pye (in the sky) - Ernie Pyle
Ernest Taylor Pyle was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, reaching career highs that disgruntled Arnie Pye could only dream of (even with his trusty helicopter). He was killed by enemy fire during the Battle of Okinawa in WWII.
Drederick Tatum - Mike Tyson
Drederick Tatum is a direct parody of Mike Tyson, right down to his violent criminal record, high-pitched, lisping voice and his mansion full of exotic animals.
In our interview with the former Heavyweight Champion of the World a few years back, he discussed being parodied on the show: "I wasn’t aware of him until somebody told me. I didn’t pay it much attention, but I’m used to people making cartoon characters of me so I’ve never seen it as offensive. I’m not some superhero, I’m just an entertainer."
Troy McClure - Doug McClure and Troy Donahue
"Are they making fun of me?" asked B-movie actor Doug McClure while he and his family were watching an episode of The Simpsons, and he was right.
Troy McClure's name, appearance and personality traits were based on the typical washed up Hollywood actors - in this case, an amalgamation of Doug McClure and fifties heart throb Troy Donahue.
Itchy & Scratchy - Tom and Jerry
Well duh. As we all know, Itchy & Scratchy is essentially Tom and Jerry on bath salts.
Nelson Muntz - Judd Nelson as Bender in The Breakfast Club and Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
His name isn't just a reference to the wrestling hold he regularly inflicts on his fellow classmates - Judd Nelson's Breakfast Club bully is also an inspiration.
Krusty the Clown - Rusty Nails
Matt Groening and director Brad Bell grew up watching TV clown Rusty Nails. Groening recalls that he was a sweet clown with a Christian message, but his name terrified the audience.