The Simpsons Could Retire Martin Prince Following Voice Actor Russi Taylor's Death
Taylor was best known for her work with Disney, having voiced Minnie Mouse for more than three decades, but her performances as Bart Simpson's nerdy classmate Martin - Springfield Elementary's resident teacher's pet - made her popular with fans of the show.
Many of us will join Simpsons writer and showrunner Al Jean in expressing sorrow at the actor's passing. But for many fans, it will be hard not to wonder about her character's future - what does this mean for Martin? A quick look at the show's history just might give us a clue.
.@TheSimpsons Deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Russi Taylor a true delight to work with. pic.twitter.com/1qNUf7M6TM
- Al Jean (@AlJean) July 27, 2019
The long-running Fox cartoon has form for retiring characters, following previous deaths among the voice cast.
In 1998, comic actor Phil Hartman - recognisable to viewers as the voices of washed-up actor Troy McClure, hapless lawyer Lionel Hutz and side characters such as con artist Lyle Lanley - was shot and killed by his wife, in scenes that shocked the United States and beyond.
With Hartman a popular and committed member of the cast, who had expressed interest in a live-action movie about McClure, the show's producers opted to retire his characters - Hutz would appear in later episodes, but only in non-speaking roles.
Similarly, in 2013 Marcia Wallace - the voice of Bart's jaded teacher Edna Krabappel - passed away after suffering from pneumonia and sepsis, following struggles with breast cancer, and her character was also retired.
That's not to say it's necessarily the end of the road for Martin, however.
The popular (if lesser-spotted) Lunchlady Doris character was removed from the show in the wake of actor Doris Grau's death in 1995, although several later episodes used archived voice performances recorded prior to her passing - and in 2006, the character was restored (albeit renamed 'Lunchlady Dora' in tribute to Grau) to speaking roles, newly voiced by Tress MacNeille.
So could this point to a new lease of life for Martin, further down the line? While we're on the subject, is there also a chance for any of Russi Taylor's other characters, such as the twins Sherri and Terri, or exchange student Uter Zorker? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
The Walt Disney Company confirmed Taylor's death in an emotional tribute on its website, explaining that she had passed away in Glendale, California, on Friday (26 July).
Bill Farmer, known as the voice of Goofy, commented: "Russi was as close as family; as wonderful, funny, and sweet as Minnie Mouse, and as talented yet humble as you would expect. I will deeply and dearly miss her."
RIP Russi Taylor.
Featured Image Credit: 20th Century Fox