Comic actress and voice specialist Yeardley Smith has made a virtue out of her odd looks, small figure and distinctive, child-like nasal tones. Lending vocal life to the animated role of “Lisa Simpson” – the intelligent, caring, saxophone-droning, vegetarian member of the Simpson family – has been her bread-and-butter job for over 20 years. She is American but was born in Paris, France where her father served as a correspondent with UPI. By the time she was two, she and her family had moved to Washington, D.C., where she was raised. A shy, introverted child, she started her pixie-like young career as a teenager at a nearby dinner theater where she played “Tinkerbell” in a musical adaptation of “Peter Pan”. After receiving her high school diploma, she apprenticed for a time at the famed Arena Stage, then headed off to New York and bigger things.
Yeardley understudied the role of “Debbie” on Broadway in Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing”, starring Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close, then took over the part for eight months. Small film offers started coming her way with Heaven Help Us (1985) and The Legend of Billie Jean (1985), so in 1986, she headed West and settled. After some work on the LA stage with “Boys and Girls/Men and Women” (1987) and “How the Other Half Loves” (1988) and a recurring role on the ground-breaking gay comedy, Brothers (1984), Yeardley won the part of daughter “Lisa Simpson”. The animated character was launched on the sketch TV comedy series, The Tracey Ullman Show (1987). Two years later, she spun off into The Simpsons (1989) and still going strong after 20 years.
Yeardley has made the TV rounds on-camera as well with amusing guest appearances on Dharma & Greg (1997), Murphy Brown (1988), Empty Nest (1988), Mama’s Family (1983) and a regular role for three seasons as “Louise” on Herman’s Head (1991). Other film supports include roles in City Slickers (1991), Jingle All the Way (1996) and As Good as It Gets (1997). In 2004, Yeardley performed front-and-center in her own one-woman autobiographical show entitled “More” in New York.
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