Dan Castellaneta

Daniel Louis Castellaneta is an American actor, comedian, and screenwriter. Castellaneta is best known for his work as Homer Simpson's voice actor, as well as the voices of other Simpsons characters such as Abraham "Grampa" Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Sideshow Mel, Groundskeeper Willie, Mayor Quimby, and Hans Moleman in the animated television series The Simpsons.

The voice of Grandpa in Nickelodeon's Hey Arnold! is also well-known, as is his work on Futurama, Sibs & Darkwing Duck, The Adventures of Dynamo Duck, The Batman, Back to the Future: The Animated Series, Aladdin, Taz-Mania, and KaBlam!

Early Life

Daniel Louis Castellaneta was born on October 29, 1957, in Roseland Community Hospital on Chicago's south side, and grew up in River Forest and Oak Park, Illinois. His parents, Elsie Castellaneta and Louis Castellaneta, were both of Italian descent. Louis Castellaneta worked as an amateur actor for a printing company.

Castellaneta learned how to make an impact from a young age, and when he was sixteen, his mother enrolled him in an acting class to further his training. He'd listen to his father's comedy albums and try to impersonate the actors on the recordings. An impressive number of actors and directors, including Alan Arkin and Barbara Harris, as well as Mike Nichols and Elaine May, were "devotees" of their profession. After graduating from Oak Park and River Forest High School, he enrolled in Northern Illinois University (NIU) and continued there until he graduated in 1975.In college, Castellaneta studied in art education with a goal of becoming an art teacher.

He went on to become a student teacher, and he used his impressions to amuse and entertain his students. Castellaneta was a regular on The Ron Petke and His Dead Uncle Show, a radio show broadcast by Northern Illinois University. As a result of the show, Castellaneta was able to improve his abilities as a voiceover performer. He remembers something similar "We used to double up on parodies and sketches, so you became used to switching between several characters' voices. By doing a voiceover, I was able to get my foot in the door. We weren't worried by the fact that the show was hardly heard. It was the fact that we were given the freedom to do it ourselves and write our own content that impressed us." He enrolled in a playwriting course and auditioned for a spot on an improv comedy show. In the beginning, Castellaneta "fell on his face with improvisation," but soon "was spitting forth material faster than [they] could make it work," according to a fellow classmate.


Castellaneta began acting in 1979, after earning his bachelor's degree from Northern Illinois University. He came to the conclusion that even if his profession failed, he would still have the possibility to try something else. He began taking improv classes after meeting Deb Lacusta, who would become his future wife. Beginning in 1983, he was employed by The Second City, an improvised theater company located in Chicago, where he remained until 1987. During this time, he and his wife worked as voiceover artists for a number of radio stations around the country.

When he came in for an audition on The Tracey Ullman Show, Tracey Ullman and the other producers were underwhelmed by his first impression of them. Ullman made the decision to travel to Chicago in order to witness Castellaneta perform live. It was Castellaneta's performance that night, which was around a blind man aspiring to become a comic, that made Ullman cry, despite the fact that there were more flamboyant performers on the bill that night. Castellaneta was hired because she was a good fit for her.

In the United States, Castellaneta is most recognized for his role as Homer Simpson on The Simpsons, which is the longest-running animated television show in history. The Tracey Ullman Show presented a series of animated vignettes about a dysfunctional family that was based on a true story. A decision was made not to bring on any additional performers because the producers needed voices for the short films. They cast Castellaneta and fellow cast member Julie Kavner to play Homer Simpson and Marge Simpson, respectively, and they received rave reviews. When Homer first appeared on the show, his voice was a clumsy impression of Walter Matthau. Despite this, Castellaneta was unable to "get enough strength behind that voice" and was unable to maintain his Matthau impersonation during the nine- to ten-hour recording sessions.

To make his voice more manageable, he "lowered the voice down" and transformed it into a more varied and amusing voice during the second, and then third, seasons of the half-hour show in an attempt to find something more manageable.

It is impossible to distinguish between Castellaneta's normal speaking voice and Homer's.

Castellaneta lowers his chin to his chest and is instructed to "let his IQ go" in order to replicate Homer's voice on stage.

The actor prefers to remain in character during recording sessions, and he makes an effort to create a scene in his head in order to provide it with the suitable voice for the part.

However, Castellaneta claims that, despite his celebrity status, he is only occasionally noticed in public, "except by a die-hard devotee."

Castellaneta received four Primetime Emmy Awards for "Outstanding Voice-Over Performance": in 1992 for "Lisa's Pony," in 1993 for "Mr. Plow," in 2004 for voicing numerous characters in "Today I Am a Clown," and in 2009 for voicing Homer in "Father Knows Worst." Castellaneta has also received two Primetime Emmy Awards for "Outstanding Voice-Over Performance": in 1992 for "Lisa's Pon

Castellaneta got a special Annie Award in 1993 for "Outstanding Individual Achievement in the Field of Animation" for his role as Homer Simpson on The Simpsons.

For their role as "Most Popular Mom and Dad in a TV Series," Castellaneta and Julie Kavner (Marge's voice) were honored with a Young Artist Award in 2004.

As of 2002, Homer was voted second among the Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters by TV Guide, and Homer and the rest of the Simpson family were recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

Until 1998, Castellaneta received a salary of $30,000 per episode.

The Fox network threatened to replace the six notable voice actors with new ones during a compensation dispute in 1998. The network even planned new voice casting during that time period.

The controversy was swiftly resolved, and he continued to receive $125,000 every episode until 2004, when the voice actors demanded $360,000 per episode, which he agreed to. After a month, the problem was resolved, and Castellaneta received $250,000 for each episode in which he appeared.

After salary re-negotiations, the voice actors were paid more than $400,000 each episode on average in 2008.

Then, three years later, when Fox threatened to cancel the program unless production costs were decreased, Castellaneta and the rest of the cast consented to a 25 percent pay cut, bringing their total episode pay to more than $300,000.

It was written by Castellaneta and Deb Lacusta for an episode of Barney in the early 1990s where he gets clean and sober. It was brought to Al Jean's attention that they had an idea for a show. Jean liked the plot, but she didn't want it to be repeated since it was too similar to "Duffless," an episode that the authors were currently working on. In the following years, they presented their revised script to then-showrunner Mike Scully, who was enthusiastic about it and made a few minor changes. Their script was developed into the 11th season episode "Days of Wine and D'oh'ses," which broadcast on April 9, 2000, and was written by David E. Kelley and David E. Miller. Additionally, the episodes "Gump Roast," "The Ziff Who Came to Dinner," "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore," and "The Fight Before Christmas" were written by Castellaneta and his wife, who also served as the show's executive producer. When they were nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award in 2007, they were nominated for the episode "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore." Castellaneta is also well-known for his work as a consultant to producers.

Personal Life

Castellaneta and his wife, Deb Lacusta, split their time between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, California. The pair met for the first time at an improvised comedy workshop in Chicago, Illinois. Castellaneta is a vegetarian and a teetotaler who participates in regular physical activity. He also does Tai Chi, which he enjoys. Castellaneta has been a Democrat all of his life and is also a committed Catholic.

Last Modified: Jan 9, 2022

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