Matt Groening finally explained how “The Simpsons” landed one of their biggest celebrity cameos, settling once and for all a debate that torn apart schoolyards since the 1990s. Did Michael Jackson actually lend his voice to the show?
“We really did have him,” Groening told Australian TV show “The Weekly.”
Jackson’s cameo on the 1991 episode “Stark Raving Dad” has been one of the longest-running fan theories in the Fox comedy’s history. That’s because Jackson wasn’t credited for his appearance. Instead, the King of Pop used the pseudonym “John Jay Smith.”
Speculation about whether it really was Jackson has continued — until now.
Groening finally set the record straight: “He did the show, he didn’t want credit for it — it was some kind of deal with his record company or whatever.”
In the episode, Homer Simpson is sent to a mental hospital, where he is befriended by a fellow patient, Leon Kompowsky, who believes he is Michael Jackson. The secondary plot of the episode revolves around Bart, because he always forgets Lisa’s birthday, to try and come up with the best present ever. The episode ends with Kompowsky going to the Simpsons’ home and singing “Happy Birthday Lisa.”
So here’s what actually happened, per Groening: Jackson called him up and said he wanted to do the show, but that Groening thought it was a prank so he hung up. “He said he loved Bart and wanted to be on the show.” It was Jackson’s voice during Kompowsky’s speaking lines, but, due to a contractual obligation with his record company, a stand-in had to sing the actual song.
“So when it came time to sing the songs, he had a soundalike singer,” Groening continued. “And he stood there and watched the guy who was so nervous, who had to sound like Michael Jackson. He giggled.”
So there we have it. And if you don’t believe us, you can watch the full interview with Groening in the video above.