The Simpsons ORU Diploma

Homer scratches Ned Flanders' name off the Oral Roberts University diploma and adds his own in the "I Love Lisa" episode of "The Simpsons. But there's no truth to the rumor that series creator Matt Groening attended Tulsa's ORU. FOX/FXX

Hungry for “The Simpsons?”

Settle into a recliner near the TV and prepare your eyeballs for a feast. Here comes a smorgas-Bart.

“The Simpsons” have 25 seasons in the bank, and you can see all 552 episodes (plus “The Simpsons Movie”) during a 278-hour marathon that begins Thursday, Aug. 21 on FXX, cable 262.

And the 26th season of “The Simpsons” launches at 7 p.m. Sept. 28.

In honor of the occasion, we’ve got 25 things you perhaps didn’t know about Springfield’s most famous animated family.

What’s the show’s connection to Oral Roberts University? Which episodes feature guest appearances by actors with Oklahoma ties? Where did members of this nuclear family get their names?

Here’s an appetizer: Homer’s favorite sound effect — “D’oh!” (also spelled “doh”) — is an actual word in the Oxford English Dictionary. The definition? “Used to comment on a foolish or stupid action, especially one’s own.” In “The Simpsons” scripts, the word is written as “annoyed grunt.”


1. Creator Matt Groening’s real-life parents, sisters and aunt are Homer, Marge (Margaret), Lisa, Maggie and Patty.

2. All of the characters in “The Simpsons” are yellow because Groening wanted them to stand out on screen. According to a former writer on the show, Smithers was originally a subservient black character, but it was decided that the character could cause a controversy, so he was changed to yellow.

3. Michael Jackson unofficially guest-starred in the “Stark Raving Dad” episode in 1991, but he wouldn’t let producers use his name, so the role was credited to “John Jay Smith.” And Jackson also wasn’t allowed to sing, so an impersonator had to record “Happy Birthday Lisa.” Jackson played Leon Kompowksy, a white mental institution patient who believed he was Michael Jackson. Jackson also co-wrote and produced Bart’s hit “Do the Bartman.” The episode airs 2:30 a.m. Friday.

4. Johnny Cash played the hallucinogenic coyote in the episode titled “El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer (The Mysterious Voyage of Our Homer)”. In it, Homer eats a super hot pepper at the Springfield Chili Cook-off and goes on a psychic journey with a coyote as his spirit guide. Airs 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

5. After the murder of Phil Hartman by his wife in 1998, all of his characters, including Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure, were retired. The actor voiced roles on the show 52 times before his tragic death.

6. Maggie’s first word, “Daddy,” was voiced by Elizabeth Taylor. The actress also voiced a role as herself in a later episode. See the episode at 7 p.m. Friday.

7. God and Jesus are the only characters in the history of “The Simpsons” with five fingers.

8. Dustin Hoffman voiced the role of substitute teacher Mr. Bergstrom in the 1991 episode “Lisa’s Substitute” but did not want to be credited under his own name. He used the pseudonym Sam Etic. Airs 12:30 a.m. Friday.

9. Sir Paul McCartney and wife Linda McCartney agreed to voice roles in the “Lisa Is a Vegetarian” episode providing the character stay a vegetarian throughout the life of the series. She has. John Lennon, who died before the show was launched, was the only Beatle who never made a “Simpsons” guest appearances. See the episode at 3 a.m. Sunday.

10. The price of $847.63 that appears on the cash register in the original opening title where Maggie is scanned was, according to Groening, the monthly cost of raising a child in 1989.

11. A “Simpsons” character is an alum of Oral Roberts University. Ultra-nice neighbor Ned Flanders possesses an ORU diploma. In a season four episode titled “I Love Lisa,” Homer is seen scratching out Flanders’ name on the diploma and replacing it with his own. Airs at 9:30 p.m. Friday.

12. Groening is not an alum of Oral Roberts University. Search the Web and you’ll find references to Groening briefly attending ORU. Until someone can produce a smoking gun (not the one used to shoot Mr. Burns in a two-part episode), write it off as an urban legend. Groening attended Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. In the Groening documentary “My Wasted Life,” he said every “creative weirdo” in the Pacific Northwest gravitated toward Evergreen State College. Groening never mentioned ORU. Meanwhile, ORU’s registrar found no record of anyone named Matt Groening ever attending the school, according to the university’s public relations office.

13. Tulsan Gailard Sartain guest-starred in a season eight episode titled “The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase.” The episode, as the title suggests, featured three mini-pilots of possible spinoff series. One of the pilots was “Chief Wiggum P.I.” Wiggum’s adversary was Big Daddy, who was voiced by Sartain. At the end, Big Daddy escapes by swimming away. “Ah, let him go,” Wiggum said. “I have the feeling we’ll meet again, each and every week, always in more sexy and exciting ways.” Airs 1 a.m. Monday.

14. Former Henryetta, Oklahoma, UCLA and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman appeared in a season 10 episode titled “Sunday Cruddy Sunday.” Homer and pals head to the Super Bowl. A carnival-type fan fest before the game included Flanders posing for Aikman, who was moonlighting as a caricature artist. Airs 8 p.m. Monday.

15. Hale High School graduate Gary Busey voiced a character in a season 16 episode titled “On a Clear Day, I Can’t See My Sister.” Busey plays himself while narrating a video about how to cope with restraining orders. Busey talked about how someone named Mary got a restraining order against someone named Joe. “Now Joe can’t come within 500 feet of Mary,” he said. “He also can’t call her or burn his name in gas on her lawn. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Joe is me. And Mary is a composite of 12 different women and a small independent film company, all of whom couldn’t deal with me, because I’m too real.” Airs 1:30 p.m. Aug. 28.

16. Actor and director Ron Howard, who was born in Duncan, portrayed himself in a season 10 episode titled “When You Dish Upon a Star” and he came back for seconds in a season 11 episode titled “Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder.” At the end of Howard’s debut episode, he was desperate enough to pitch Homer’s idea (a killer robot driving instructor travels back in time, and his best friend is a talking pie) to a movie studio. In Howard’s return the following season, he and Homer clash during a filming of a “Hollywood Squares”-type show. During the skirmish, Howard said, “Why do you think I stopped acting and became a director?” Replied Homer: “I don’t know, because you weren’t cute anymore?” Disco Stu, a contestant, agreed with that statement, and circle got the square. “When You Dish” airs 4:30 p.m. Monday and “Hello Gutter” at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.

17. It’s a Halloween tradition! Ever since season two, “The Simpsons” has treated viewers to a “Treehouse of Horror” episode. Dennis Rodman, who played college basketball at Southeastern State University in Durant, got turned into a pacifier with a human head by Maggie in a season 17 “Treehouse of Horror” episode. Among “Treehouse of Horror” segments in 2014 will be a parody called “A Clockwork Yellow.” Airs 8:30 p.m. Aug. 28.

18. Tulsan Bill Hader appeared on a season 24 episode titled “The Fabulous Faker Boy.” To make Bart’s music lessons possible, Marge agrees to be a driving instructor for a foreign character named Slava, voiced by Hader. Speaking of folks who need driving lessons, Justin Bieber appeared in the episode as himself. Airs 10:30 p.m. Sept. 1.

19. Don’t have a cow, man, but Bart Simpson is a girl. El Barto is voiced by Nancy Cartwright, who originally intended to audition for Lisa Simpson but was more intrigued by the Bart role. Cartwright also supplies the voice for other male characters, including Nelson Muntz and Ralph Wiggum. All six primary cast members — Cartwright, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria, Yeardley Smith, Julie Kavner and Dan Castellaneta — have won Emmys for their voice work on the show.

20. The baby outgrew the parent. “The Simpsons” first appeared as animated shorts in episodes of “The Tracey Ullman Show,” which ran from 1987-89 during Fox’s fledgling prime-time days. Ullman’s show won three Emmys. “The Simpsons” graduated to their own show in December 1989 and in 2009 surpassed “Gunsmoke” as the longest-running American scripted prime-time TV series.

21. Not all of “The Simpsons” stars were animated. Conan O’Brien was a writer and producer for the show from 1991-93. He was far from a household name when he was chosen by NBC to succeed David Letterman as the host of “Late Night” in 1993. Among episodes written by O’Brien are “Marge vs. the Monorail” (airing 8 p.m. Friday) and “Homer Goes to College” (airs 2:30 a.m. Saturday).

22. “The Simpsons” can bury a hatchet. The animated series “Family Guy” has been accused of ripping off “The Simpsons.” Who had which idea first? Never mind that. Characters from the shows will share a screen in a crossover event scheduled to air during the season premiere Sept. 28.

23. Life imitates art. The sprawling cast of recurring characters on the show includes Professor Frink, whose Hank Azaria-provided voice was inspired by Jerry Lewis in “The Nutty Professor.” Lewis handled the voice work as Professor Frink’s father in a 2003 “Treehouse of Horror” episode (airs 9:30 p.m. Aug. 27). A tiny sampling of other recurring characters: Bumblebee Man, Rainier Wolfcastle, Sea Captain, Comic Book Guy, Krusty the Clown, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Groundskeeper Willie and, of course, Itchy and Scratchy.

24. “The Simpsons” has “Leave It to Beaver” roots. In the documentary “My Wasted Life,” Groening talked about “Leave it to Beaver” and said the best character on the show was Eddie Haskell. Surmised Groening: When Eddie Haskell grows up, his son should have a show. Bart Simpson is essentially the son of Eddie Haskell. Bart is an anagram of “brat.”

25. Most off-the-wall guest star? Take your pick. British prime minister Tony Blair appeared as himself in a season 15 episode (airs 11 p.m. Aug. 28). Former U.S. attorney general Janet Reno appeared as herself in a season 24 episode (airs 8:30 a.m. Sept. 1). Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, showed up in a season four episode (airs 8:30 a.m. Saturday).

Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389

Rita Sherrow 918-581-8360

Scene Writer

Jimmie is a pop culture and feature writer at the Tulsa World. A former Oklahoma sports writer of the year, he has written books about former Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer and former Oklahoma State football coach Pat Jones. Phone: 918-581-8389