The 25 best celebrity cameos on The Simpsons
Fox

The 25 best celebrity cameos on The Simpsons

At first, celebrities didn’t seem to want to appear on “The Simpsons.” In fact, a couple of the first celebrities to lend their voices, Dustin Hoffman and Michael Jackson, used pseudonyms for their roles. Then, of course, the show became a huge success, and suddenly stars were jonesing to get on the show. Some of them play characters, but others make appearances as themselves. With that in mind, here are our favorite celebrity cameos on “The Simpsons,” but only where the celebrities were on the show as themselves. There will be some pileup in terms of episodes, because usually if one appears, a few more are on there as well.

 
1 of 25

Peter Frampton

Peter Frampton
Harmony Gerber/Getty Images

The episode “Homerpalooza” features several musician cameos, but Frampton’s stands out as the best. Sure, he may not have been as big of a name as Smashing Pumpkins in the ‘90s, but he got some good lines, and more importantly he delivered them well. In fact, some of the people who worked on the show at the time said Frampton was so good at his comedic delivery that he could have made a living doing it. That’s high praise.

 
2 of 25

Cypress Hill

Cypress Hill
Joey Foley/Getty Images

We had to include one more artist from “Homerpalooza,” and we’re going with Cypress Hill. It’s mostly for one joke where the rap group isn’t sure if they ordered an orchestra, possibly while high. So to figure it out, they jump into performing “Insane in the Membrane” while the orchestra joins in.

 
3 of 25

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson
John Phillips/Getty Images

In “Beyons Blunderdome,” Homer hangs out with good guy Mel Gibson, and there is a joke about Robert Downey Jr’s legal troubles. How quickly things can change. We aren’t condoning the actions of Gibson in the time since this episode aired, but he is a great foil for Homer in this Hollywood-skewering adventure.

 
4 of 25

Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Three Beatles appeared on “The Simpsons,” and two appear on this list (Sorry, George). The first was Ringo, who showed up in the second season. In addition to bringing that Beatles energy, apparently Ringo is a huge fan of the show. That makes his cameo even more enjoyable in retrospect.

 
5 of 25

Bette Midler

Bette Midler
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

“Krusty Gets Kancelled” pulls out all the celebrity stops, but Midler shines the most. Not because she sings “Wind Beneath My Wings.” No, it’s for her extreme environmental work, like chasing down litterers on foot and making cars explode extreme. There’s also a great joke about the horse that Krusty and Bette own together: Krudler.

 
6 of 25

Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Midler serenading Krusty is a parody of her appearance toward the end of Carson’s run on “The Tonight Show.” You know who else is in that episode? That would be the legend of late night himself. It’s just cool to see Carson show up on “The Simpsons,” and then he lifts a Buick Skylark over his head while singing opera.

 
7 of 25

Mike Scioscia

Mike Scioscia
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Several baseball stars appear in “Homer at the Bat.” Of the bunch, Scioscia does the best job as a voice actor, even if he doesn’t have the funniest arc. (He actually wants to do his job at the power plant and not just be a softball ringer and gets sick from radiation poisoning). Also, he gets bonus points because he appeared in a second cameo as himself when he was the manager of the Angels. The show gets bonus points too for referencing Scioscia’s time at the plant.

 
8 of 25

Tom Jones

Tom Jones
Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Marge loves Welsh crooner Tom Jones, like many ladies do. Mr. Burns has a crush on Marge, so he does what any evil rich man would do: He kidnaps Tom Jones to have him sing for Marge. Alas, Marge is oblivious to the reality of the situation, making it tough for Tom to free himself. This circumstance is, indeed, quite unusual.

 
9 of 25

Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

“The Simpsons” love musicians. This much is clear now: “Mr. Plow” is a classic episode in which Homer becomes Springfield’s premier plow driver. Barney decides to get in on the game as the Plow King, and part of his rise to the top involves him getting Ronstadt to show up to sing his jingle. How does he pull that off? Well it turns out they had been looking for a project to work on anyway.

 
10 of 25

Adam West

Adam West
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

West’s sensibility is clear in “The Simpsons.” In fact, former “Simpsons” writer Conan O’Brien once wrote a pilot starring West, the iconic “Lookwell.” He appeared a few times on “The Simpsons,” but his first appearance is his best. West acts weird, and it’s perfect.

 
11 of 25

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
Scott Gries/Getty Images

There’s an episode where Homer goes to a music dream camp, which features the likes of Brian Setzer, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, and this duo from The Rolling Stones. Why are we highlighting these two, other than that they are famous? Because Richards says he has to get home to put up the storm windows because winter is coming. How often do you hear a rock legend say that?

 
12 of 25

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Nimoy has popped up a couple of times as well. Once he is the narrator of a story involving Homer seeing an alien, and it feels pretty non-canon. Mulder and Scully from “The X-Files” show up. In his initial appearance, though, he’s the celebrity brought in to take the first ride on Springfield’s new monorail. Unfortunately, said monorail was bought from huckster Lyle Lanley, so the trip does not go as planned. Nimoy’s cameo did, though, because it was quite funny...not as funny as him singing “Good Morning Starshine” in the alien episode, though.

 
13 of 25

Conan O'Brien

Conan O'Brien
Noam Galai/WireImage

Speaking of Conan. After writing for “The Simpsons,” he became a late-night host. Naturally, he paid a visit back to his former show, this time playing himself. He interviews Bart when he becomes famous as a one-note catchphrase spouter on Krusty’s show. It’s fun to see, especially if you know Conan’s history.

 
14 of 25

Barry White

Barry White
David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images

White is known for his deep, deep voice. Who knew it could help save snakes? White is in Springfield for Whacking Day, which is dedicated to beating snakes to death. Lisa and Bart want to save them, and so does White, so they join forces. They need to create vibrations in the ground to attract the snakes to save them. White’s booming bass is the perfect tool for that.

 
15 of 25

Ramones

Ramones
Gie Knaeps/Getty Images

Why did Smithers hire the Ramones for Mr. Burns’ birthday party? We’ll never know. All we know is they slag off Springfield, rip through their own version of “Happy Birthday” and then tell Mr. Burns to go to hell. This leads Mr. Burns to request the Rolling Stones to be killed, and he won’t stand to be corrected. Watch out, Mick and Keith!

 
16 of 25

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney
Rino Petrosino/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

When Lisa becomes a vegetarian, she finds it hard to find allies in town, especially since her family loves meat. Fortunately,she finds out that Apu is vegetarian, and so are Apu’s friends Paul and Linda McCartney. It’s still cool to see, or in this case hear, McCartney show up on a show. We also get to hear Apu sing a Beatles classic, which Paul and Linda seem to enjoy.

 
17 of 25

Ernest Borgnine

Ernest Borgnine
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Surely, children in the ‘90s remembered Borgnine from his role as Sergeant Fatso Jetson in “From Here to Eternity.” Of course, they wouldn’t in reality. That’s the joke. Borgnine is brought in to be a celebrity chaperone for the scout troop's rafting trip. The kids are very excited, because they do, somehow, remember him from the Best Picture winner of 1953.

 
18 of 25

James Woods

James Woods
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

We will not speak of Woods’ politics, or his Twitter activity. He’s great on “The Simpsons” though. Woods takes a job at the Kwik-E-Mart to research a role. Woods is full of weird energy and twitchiness. It’s a really dynamic recording performance, one of the best the show ever had. We can’t argue with that.

 
19 of 25

Mel Brooks

Mel Brooks
David Livingston/Getty Images

When Brooks’ wife Anne Bancroft did a voice on “The Simpsons,” Brooks evidently tagged along to the recording to talk to the people working on the show and, perhaps, to pitch himself a bit. Needless to say, the minds behind “The Simpsons” were happy to have on their show the man who made “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles.". Also, we find out a terrible secret: Mel Brooks actually hates Carl Reiner! Scandal!

 
20 of 25

Mickey Rooney

Mickey Rooney
Michael Montfort/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hey, Mickey Rooney was the biggest box office draw in this country spanning two decades! He’s also brought in to give Milhouse a pep talk when he gets nerves about playing Fallout Boy in the Radioactive Man movie. When Rooney can’t change Milhouse’s mind, he tries to step into the role himself. It doesn’t pan out.

 
21 of 25

Tito Puente

Tito Puente
Andrew Lepley/Redferns

Puente is actually in two episodes, mostly because he’s randomly part of the two part “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” epic. His highlight comes in the second episode, when he and his band perform a song denigrating Mr. Burns. Granted, Puente isn’t the singer of the show; he’s not a vocalist, but he’s still there.

 
22 of 25

Bob Newhart

Bob Newhart
Jason Merritt/FilmMagic

Basically, “The Simpsons” just set Newhart up to do his thing. Troy McClure ropes Newhart into giving a speech at Krusty’s funeral. (No he’s not actually dead; long story.) Newhart hems and haws and does all his pauses. If you love Newhart, it’s pretty much all you could want.

 
23 of 25

Ron Howard

Ron Howard
LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images

Before “Arrested Development,” Howard was already skewering his nice-guy image on “The Simpsons.” His first appearance is in an episode about Homer befriending Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, but Howard steals the show. Basically every single one of his lines is hilarious. In fact, the episode also ends with him. Howard appears in a later episode again, killing it once more.

 
24 of 25

Mark Hamill

Mark Hamill
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Hamill clearly loved his appearance on “The Simpsons.” For starters, he pulls double duty in this episode where Homer becomes a bodyguard. He plays a bodyguard school headmaster and gets to belt out “I Will Always Love You.” On top of that, though, he plays himself. Like Howard, Hamill is skewering his image. Also like Howard, he crushes it.

 
25 of 25

Betty White

Betty White
Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic

From Barry White to Betty White. Sorry, no Vanna White. Who doesn’t love Betty White? She does the perfect turn in this episode, going from being sweet and friendly to calling PBS’ goons to take down Homer for trying to avoid paying his donation. We’ve become accustomed to White playing with her image, but it’s still fun to hear her yell in anger.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.

More must-reads:

Customize Your Newsletter

+

Get the latest news and rumors, customized to your favorite sports and teams. Emailed daily. Always free!

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.