Obit Reveals Where The Simpsons Got Their Names

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
May 7 2013 9:03 AM

Simpsons Inspiration Margaret Groening Dies 

Margaret Groening, mother of Simpsons creator Matt Groening, died peacefully at age 94 recently. She is survived by the longest running sitcom in American television, much of which she and her family helped inspire.

According to Ms. Groening’s obituary in the Portland Oregonian, which feels ripped from the headlines of the Springfield Shopper, her maiden name was Wiggum. This, presumably, is where her son got the names for a certain bumbling police chief and his fun-toy-loving son. Her husband, Matt’s father, was named Homer, and the couple, like the parents on the Simpsons, were high school sweethearts. Homer Groening was apparently not the student that Margaret was:


Homer, Margaret, and the Wiggums weren’t the only Simpsons inspirations. The obituary also mentions Patty Groening, Matt’s oldest sister, who died earlier this year. There’s no word of a Selma, but one Reddit user who claimed to know her said that she “reeked of cigarette smoke and had crazy, wiry hair.”* You can probably guess the names of Margaret’s two other daughters:


The picture of Margaret that accompanies the obituary is in black and white, so it’s hard to tell whether she had blue hair, though she does sport pearls. Hopefully the Groenings can take some comfort in the fact that she will, in a very unusual way, live on.

*Update, June 12, 2013: Kate Werdebaugh, daughter of Patty Groening, writes in to tell me that the Reddit user’s comment about Patty Groening was “entirely false” and has been removed from Reddit:

My mother, Patty Groening, did not “reek of cigarette smoke” or have “crazy wiry hair." It is sad that the Reddit poster would make that up for the sheer purpose of entertaining others, and is disrespectful to her memory, family members and friends. She was a very talented and respected artist, and a beloved family member and friend to many.

(Image via Reddit user Yarr.)

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 



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