The Guy You’ve Never Seen Who’s Behind America’s Favorite Cartoon Dad

Homer Simpson, "Grampa" Simpson, Krusty the Clown, Barney Gumble, Groundskeeper Willy and many more are all voiced by Italian-American actor Dan Castellaneta.

Daniel Louis Castellaneta was born on Oct. 29, 1957 at Roseland Community Hospital on Chicago’s south side to parents Louis and Elsie. He was raised in River Forest and Oak Park, Ill., and despite being decades away from voicing one of the most popular characters in TV history, he would impress friends and family with uncanny impressions that were gleaned from old comedy records.

By the time he was 16, his mother enrolled him in an acting class and after high school, Dan went on to Northern Illinois University, where he studied art education. It was at NIU where he joined The Ron Petke and His Dead Uncle Show, and began to hone his voice-over skills.

He graduated from college in 1979 with the goal of becoming a teacher, but by 1986 that all changed when he was offered the opportunity to voice Homer Simpson during an animated short on The Tracey Ullman Show.

At that time, he modeled Homer’s voice after Walter Matthau, but as the short became a half-hour series on FOX, the quickly evolving character needed a new voice with more range, and as they say, the rest is history:

The Simpsons, which is the longest-running primetime scripted series on TV, is in its 31st season with 673 episodes.

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