Just in case you aren’t getting enough Simpsons via FXX’s two-week-long “Every Simpsons Ever” marathon, here is some Simpsons trivia you might not have known about the longest-running comedy in TV history.
Beatles reunion: Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney have all made appearances on The Simpsons…separately. Starr returns a long-overdue fan letter to Marge, Harrison meets Homer at a music industry function, and McCartney shows up in Apu’s rooftop garden to encourage Lisa to go vegetarian. McCartney only agreed to appear if Lisa was permanently made vegetarian, beyond just the one episode.
Michael Jackson was a huge fan of The Simpsons right from the beginning. He secretly wrote the Bart Simpson novelty hit “Do the Bartman” and asked producers if he could guest star on an episode. He played a man in a mental institution convinced he was Michael Jackson…but the voice credit was billed to “John Jay Smith.” Jackson performed two songs in the episode as well, but had them recorded by a soundalike singer, only to then later re-record the songs himself. Simpsons producers aren’t entirely sure which versions were ultimately used in the Jackson episode: the soundalike’s or Jackson’s.
In the episode where Bart gets trapped in a well, he’s ultimately released when rock star Sting single-handedly digs a tunnel. Sting wasn’t the first choice for the part of crusading, socially-conscious pop star. Bruce Springsteen was asked, but he said no. Similarly, James Earl Jones was the first choice to play Sideshow Bob. He couldn’t do it, so Kelsey Grammer got the part. (Jones later returned to perform the voice of baby Maggie Simpson in a Halloween episode.)
When NBC named Conan O’Brien the new host of Late Night in 1993, he had little performance experience and was working as a writer for The Simpsons. (He wrote the classic “Marge vs. the Monorail” episode, and came up with the Old Sea Captain character.) To get out of his contract with The Simpsons, Fox forced him to pay them $130,000.
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