This article is about the guest star. For the character, see Michael Jackson (character).

Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 — June 25, 2009) was an American singer, dancer, choreographer, businessman, and actor who guest-starred on The Simpsons in "Stark Raving Dad" as the speaking voice of Leon Kompowsky under the pseudonym John Jay Smith.

Jackson was a fan of the show[1] and called Matt Groening one night and offered to do a guest spot.[2] The idea for the episode was pitched by James L. Brooks and the script was written by Al Jean and Mike Reiss.[3] In an early version of script, Homer decided to take Barney in for rehab, but whilst there, Homer began acting crazily, so the doctors assumed he was the one to be committed.[2] Jackson pitched several story ideas for the episode, including Bart telling everyone in town that Jackson was coming to his house.[3] He also requested several script changes, including that he wanted to have a scene in which he and Bart wrote a song and asked that a joke about Prince be changed to one about Elvis Presley.[4]

Jackson with Ronald and Nancy Reagan at the White House ceremony to launch the campaign against drunk driving on May 14, 1984

Jackson especially liked Bart and wanted to give him a #1 single, so he wrote much of the song "Do the Bartman", even though he didn't receive credit for it.[5] Jackson also wrote the song "Happy Birthday Lisa" for the episode, which was later included in the album Songs in the Key of Springfield.[4]

One of Jackson's conditions for guest starring was that he voiced himself, but a sound-alike would receive credit.[5] While he recorded the voice work for the character, his entire singing was performed by Kipp Lennon,[3] because Jackson wanted to play a joke on his brothers and fool them into thinking the impersonator was him.[5] Jackson's lines were recorded at a second session by Brooks.[4] Jackson showed up for the recording session alone and did not use the special trailer that was set up for him.[3] Lennon and Jackson recorded their parts at the same time, and Jackson found Lennon's impersonations hilarious.[3] Jackson actually did record versions of the songs, and while there have been rumors that those tracks were the ones used in the final episode, Chris Ledesma says the Lennon versions were used.[4] Leon Kompowsky's normal speaking voice was recorded by Hank Azaria.[6]

He was mentioned in "Bart Sells His Soul", when Bart says, "Milhouse, there is no such thing as a soul. It's just something parents made up to scare children, like the boogeyman or Michael Jackson."

He was also mentioned in "The Bart of War", where Homer refers to him having bought the rights to The Beatles' library of music.

The producers of the show were actually legally prevented from confirming Jackson guest starred at the time, although many media sources assumed it was really him.[7][8][9][10] After this episode the producers decided that if a celebrity wished to guest-star on the show, they had to be willing to be credited under their real name and not a pseudonym. In "Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie", during the commentary, the producers of the episode confirm that Michael Jackson and Dustin Hoffman were actors who were given pseudonyms.

At the end of Jackson's music video "Black or White," we see Bart dance to the song while watching it on the TV. Unfortunately, Homer, yells at him to, "Turn off that noise!" Bart replies, "Chill out, Homeboy." Then, Homer angrily turns the TV off.


On June 25, 2009, Jackson died due to acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication at age 50.



  1. Ray Richmond. "Gloved One secret 'Simpsons' fan", Variety,. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Groening, Matt. (2003). Commentary for "Stark Raving Dad", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Reiss, Mike. (2003). Easter Egg Commentary for "Stark Raving Dad", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Jean, Al. (2003). Commentary for "Stark Raving Dad", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Brooks, James L. (2003). Commentary for "Stark Raving Dad", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  6. Castellaneta, Dan. (2003). Commentary for "Stark Raving Dad", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  7. Jay Sharbutt. "'Simpsons' Returns with a Big White Michael Jackson", Press of Atlantic City,. 
  8. Virginia Mann. "Simpsons Plays Name That Voice", The Record,. 
  9. Tom Shales. "TV Previews - Simpsons: A Surprise Thriller", Washington Post,. 
  10. Phil Rosenthal. "Some Clues as to why 'The Simpsons' is Simply the Best", Daily News of Los Angeles,. 
Guest stars in Season 3
AerosmithSteve AllenWade BoggsJosé CansecoTerry CashmanRoger ClemensBeverly D'AngeloDanny DeVitoJoe FrazierKen Griffey, Jr.Neil Patrick HarrisChick HearnMichael JacksonMagic JohnsonKipp LennonLarry McKayJackie MasonDon MattinglyKimmy RobertsonStingSteve SaxMike SciosciaSpinal TapDarryl StrawberryLona Williams
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