The Five: Great Simpsons guest stars
The Simpsons has been using guest stars since the very first season. Some have returned on several occasions, sometimes as different characters (Albert Brooks), sometimes as the same character (Kelsey Grammer), and sometimes as both (Jon Lovitz). By my calculations there have been exactly twelve thousand guest stars on the show so far, so obviously a list of just five is going to be lacking just a tad. Nevertheless, these are five guest stars who stick out in my mind. Got some more? That's what the comments are for. Here we go:
Albert Brooks: Brooks first appeared in season one as Jacques, the man with the fake French accent who tries to woo Marge away from Homer with his knowledge of bowling and women. He later appeared as Hank Scorpio, a rather paradoxical character who is both very friendly and yet extremely evil. I think my favorite Brooks episode, however, was the episode "The Heartbroke Kid" when he played Tab Spangler, a ticking time bomb of a coach who tries to coerce Bart back to health after Bart gains weight and suffers a heart attack. "Every sign is wrong!" He'll also be appearing in the Simpsons movie, which is very cool.
Kelsey Grammer: Fraiser was a decent enough show, but it just wasn't my kind of humor. Give the Simpsons writers and directors credit, though, for creating a character that fit Grammer's strengths perfectly. That baritone voice, the Shakespearean delivery, and the ability to go from calm and collected to stark raving mad all within the same second make Sideshow Bob one of the best reoccurring characters on the show.
Jon Lovitz: While he's know almost exclusively for his comedic performances, Lovitz originally wanted to do serious acting. With a voice that seems tailor-made for comedy, it's difficult to imagine him doing anything else. Still, while the characters he played were all zany and over-the-top (such as Artie Ziff, who has held a torch for Marge since high school), Lovitz brought a depth to them that went beyond simply gesticulating and doing a funny voice. Out of all the (still living) people on this list, I think Lovitz could have easily been a regular performer on the show.
Phil Hartman: Can you believe I almost left Phil off the list? Seriously, what kind of blasphemy would that have been? Of course, it has been almost eight years since his death, but he helped to give life to two of Springfield's best side characters, Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz. His radio announcer voice was perfect for animation, and both McClure and Hutz were responsible for some of the funniest moments in Simpsons history.
Joe Mantegna: There may have been one or two times when Joe Mantegna didn't play mob boss Fat Tony, but I think for the most part he played the character whenever the script called for it. I think what I love most about Fat Tony is the rhythm and cadence of his delivery, the way each word seems so calculated, almost snapping from his lips. "I don't get mad. I get stabby."