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Q&A: Voicing Bart Simpson pays well

Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, reportedly earns $400,000 per episode.

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Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, reportedly earns $400,000 per episode.

Voicing Bart Simpson pays well

Recently I read that the lady that does the voice of Bart Simpson in the TV show donated $10 million to the Church of Scientology. I didn't know that this type of work paid so well.

Nancy Cartwright, 52, is the voice of Bart Simpson as well as several other characters of the long-running animated comedy, including Todd Flanders, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Kearney and Database.

She intended to audition for the Lisa Simpson part when the show was being cast in 1987 as part of the variety show, The Tracey Ullman Show, but was more interested in the Bart role and won it. The first year of the program, Fox did not allow her to give interviews because it didn't want anyone to know Bart's voice was that of a woman.

The Simpsons took off and has been on TV ever since, for almost 450 episodes. And yes, the gig pays very, very well. Cartwright and the other five main voice characters receive a reported $400,000 per episode.

She published her autobiography, My Life as a 10-Year-Old Boy, in 2000, and in 2004 it was adapted into a one-woman play.

Cartwright, who was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith in Kettering, Ohio, joined Scientology in the late 1980s and in 2007 donated $10 million to it. She holds the second highest rank the group gives, Operating Thetan VII.

Her dual associations — Bart and Scientology — came together in January and created a stir. She used Bart's voice in an automated telephone message for the group. It was reported that her bosses "had a cow," as Bart likes to say, but the show's executive producer, Al Jean, had only this to say: "The Simpsons does not, and never has, endorsed any religion, philosophy or system of beliefs any more profound than Butterfinger bars."

The banjo boy in 'Deliverance'

We were watching the 1972 movie Deliverance the other night and had a question. Who was the young man who "played" the banjo in the Dueling Banjos music segment? I know the sounds were dubbed, but was the young man a local or an actor? Has he ever appeared in anything else?

That was Billy Redden, who was in elementary school when director John Boorman cast him in the Burt Reynolds-Jon Voight movie. He had never acted in a film before and would go more than 30 years before performing in his second — the Tim Burton-directed Big Fish. Instead, he reportedly worked in and partly owned a diner in Georgia. According to a 2003 profile in England's Independent, "His mother even sold the banjo which he was given as a keepsake to pay some outstanding bills."

Not that he could have made use of the instrument. You are correct that Redden did not play the banjo; in fact, a body double was used for the on-camera playing. The hit version of the song was by Eric Weissberg.

Q&A: Voicing Bart Simpson pays well 11/16/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 16, 2009 11:11pm]

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