Matthew Abram "Matt" Groening was born on February 15, 1954 in Portland Oregon USA. He grew up in Portland. He was the middle child of five children, and the creator of the comic strip "Life in Hell" as well as two successful television series, "The Simpsons" and "Futurama". (The village of Hell located in Norway, have their own award winning site on the Internet.) His Norwegian mother, Margaret Wiggum Groening (never had blue hair), was once a teacher, and his German father, Homer Philip Groening, was a filmmaker, advertiser, writer and cartoonist.
The Simpsons shorts first appeared in The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. Another family member, Grampa Simpson, was introduced in the later shorts. Years later, during the early seasons of The Simpsons, when it came time to give Grampa a first name, Groening says he refused to name him after his own grandfather, Abraham Groening, leaving it to other writers to choose a name. By coincidence, they chose Abraham, unaware that it was the name of Groening´s grandfather.
The series quickly became a worldwide phenomenon, to the surprise of many. Groening said: "Nobody thought The Simpsons was going to be a big hit. It sneaked up on everybody." The Simpsons was co-developed by Groening, Brooks, and Sam Simon, a writer-producer with whom Brooks had worked on previous projects. Groening and Simon, however, did not get along and were often in conflict over the show; Groening once described their relationship as "very contentious." Simon eventually left the show in 1993 over creative differences.
Like the main family members, several characters from the show have names that were inspired by people, locations or films. The name "Wiggum" for police chief Clancy Wiggum is Groening´s mother´s maiden name. The names of a few other characters were taken from major street names in Groening´s hometown of Portland, Oregon, including Flanders, Lovejoy, Powell, Quimby and Kearney. Despite common fan belief that Sideshow Bob Terwilliger was named after SW Terwilliger Boulevard in Portland, he was actually named after the character Dr. Terwilliker from the film The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.
Groening made his first professional cartoon sale of "Life in Hell" to the avant-garde Wet magazine in 1978. The cartoon is still carried in 250 weekly newspapers. "Life in Hell" caught the attention of James L. Brooks. In 1985, Brooks contacted Groening with the proposition of working in animation for the Fox variety show The Tracey Ullman Show.
Originally, Brooks wanted Groening to adapt his "Life in Hell" characters for the show. Fearing the loss of ownership rights, Groening decided to create something new and came up with a cartoon family, The Simpsons, and named the members after his own parents and sisters — while Bart was an anagram of the word brat. The shorts would be spun off into their own series: The Simpsons, which has since aired 464 episodes over 21 seasons.
In 1997, Groening, along with former Simpsons writer David X. Cohen, developed "Futurama", an animated series about life in the year 3000, which premiered in 1999. After four years on the air, the show was canceled by Fox in 2003, but Comedy Central commissioned 16 new episodes from four direct-to-DVD movies in 2008. Then, in June 2009, Comedy Central ordered 26 new episodes of Futurama, to be aired over two seasons.
The Simpsons is an American animated television series created by Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical parody of a working-class American lifestyle epitomized by its eponymous family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional city of Springfield, and lampoons American culture, society, television and many aspects of the human condition.
The family was conceived by Groening shortly before a pitch for a series of animated shorts with the producer James L. Brooks. Groening created a dysfunctional family and named the characters after members of his own family, substituting Bart for his own name. The shorts became a part of The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. After a three-season run, the sketch was developed into a half-hour prime time show and was an early hit for Fox, becoming the first Fox series to land in the Top 30 ratings in a season (1989 / 1990).
Since its debut on December 17, 1989 the show has broadcast 466 episodes and the twenty-second season started airing on September 26, 2010. The Simpsons Movie, a feature-length film, was released in theaters worldwide on July 26 and July 27, 2007, and grossed US$ 527 million worldwide.
The Simpsons has won dozens of awards since it debuted as a series, including 27 Primetime Emmy Awards, 27 Annie Awards and a Peabody Award. Time magazine´s December 31, 1999 issue named it the 20th century´s best television series, and on January 14, 2000 the Simpson family was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Simpsons is the longest-running American sitcom, the longest-running American animated program, and in 2009 it surpassed Gunsmoke as the longest running American primetime entertainment series. Homer´s exclamatory catchphrase "D´oh!" has been adopted into the English lexicon, while The Simpsons has influenced many adult-oriented animated sitcoms.
Well, Ogdenvillians, actually. Residents of Springfield´s neighbor town of Ognedville, which was settled by Norwegians. In the final episode of the 21st season titled Coming to Homerica, Ogdenvillians move into Springfield after their barley market dries up. They quickly become local heroes due to their hard work ethic and extensive knowledge. But nothing is ever that easy with The Simpsons. Soon the town turns on the immigrants and demands that they be removed from Springfield.
Of course, the plot is not nearly as exciting as the Norwegian references throughout. From the nanny using Lingonberry oil to soothe baby Maggie´s gas to the skater boy dropping an "Uff da" on Bart before subtly commenting on distance in meters, the episode is replete with a knowledge of and respect for Norwegian culture. At one point Moe even explains that he´s happy to have the Ogdenvillians as customers in no small part because "their mythology is rich and enchanting". And to clarify, he gives a nice little head nod to Capitalism by saying "It´s all about the King Haralds" and even showed a Krone (NOK). Now that is good publicity.
The show if full of references to the "Norwads" being stupid or incompetent, but at every turn they are the hardest workers, the friendliest people, and the ones with all the knowledge. They even have more alcohol tolerance. When Homer sees a group of Ogdenvillians drinking Aquavit, akevitt in Norwegian, he quickly drinks a bottle then falls face down on the bar, a pale comparison to the "Barleyjack" trying to warn him of the drink´s power. This take on Scandinavians is not really surprising seeing as how creator Matt Groening´s mother, Margaret Wiggum, is Norwegian.
In fact, it was most likely meant to be a salute to his Norwegian heritage since the show ends with a large Norwegian flag and the original air date was 17 May 2009.
Groening has been nominated for 25 Emmy awards and has won eleven: ten for The Simpsons and one for Futurama in the "Outstanding Animated Program (for programming one hour or less)" category. Groening received the 2002 National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award, and had been nominated for the same award in 2000. He received a British Comedy Award for "outstanding contribution to comedy" in 2004. In 2007, he was ranked fourth (and highest American by birth) in a list of the "top 100 living geniuses", published by British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.