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Matt Groening is a cartoonist and the creator of The Simpsons, which became the longest-running entertainment series in primetime television in 2009.
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Matt Groening was born on February 15, 1954, in Portland, Oregon. He attended Evergreen State College and was the editor of the campus newspaper. He moved to LA in 1973 and sold his comic strip "Life in Hell" to the LA Weekly. Producer James L. Brooks, asked Groening to create animated shorts for The Tracey Ullman Show and The Simpsons was born. The show went on to earn multiple Emmy Awards, and in 2009,
it surpassed Gunsmoke to become the longest-running entertainment series in primetime television.
Cartoonist Matt Groening was born on February 15, 1954, in Portland, Oregon. Groening (rhymes with "raining") grew up as the middle of five children, born between older sisters Patty and Lisa and younger siblings Mark and Maggie. Though he later borrowed some of their names for characters in The Simpsons, the real members of Groening's family bore little resemblance to their cartoon namesakes. His father, Homer Groening, was an English major and World War II vet who was a respected documentary filmmaker; mother Margaret Wiggum Groening never had blue hair.
After growing up an artistic kid in Portland, Groening attended Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, a nontraditional public university that he has called a haven for "self-disciplined creative weirdoes." He was the editor of the campus newspaper and an avid cartoonist. Though he loved cartooning, he never considered it a viable career option. "I thought I was going to make crazy cartoons for the rest of my life," Groening said. "I didn't think I'd ever get paid for it, didn't think I drew well enough, but I knew it made me happy."
That changed when Groening met fellow Evergreen student and cartoonist Lynda Barry. Inspired by Barry's ability to make a living selling her comics to alternative papers, and influenced by other underground cartoonists like Robert Crumb, Groening graduated from college and moved to Los Angeles in 1973 to work as a writer. After spending a few years working miserable part-time jobs, Groening sold his comic strip "Life in Hell" to the alternative LA Weekly in 1980. "Life in Hell" soon gained nationwide syndication, earning Groening a huge following and spawning books and collections. Groening still writes the comic, which ran in LA Weekly until 2009, when the struggling paper could no longer afford to pay him. The strip still runs in many other alternative newspapers, however.
The success of "Life in Hell" attracted the attention of a writer and producer named James L. Brooks, who contacted Groening to see if he'd be interested in creating a series of animated shorts to run on the sketch comedy series The Tracey Ullman Show. Groening invented a dysfunctional family whose names he mostly borrowed from his own parents and siblings. ("Bart," not a member of the real Groening family, is an anagram of "brat.") The Simpsons family premiered on The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. Ullman's show was soon canceled, but the Simpsons were popular enough to earn their own spin-off series, which premiered in 1989.
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