The Simpsons Comics Guide
Meet the Artists
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(1924 - 1995)
Transcribed By Bruce Gomes (firstname.lastname@example.org) from
Simpsons Comics #17.
© Bongo Entertainment, Inc. , 1995.
Drawing By Tommy Hocking, fan art from Simpsons Comics #22.
"It's rich in bunly goodness."
--Lunchlady Doris, to Lisa Simpson, after giving Lisa an empty hot dog bun for lunch (from "Lisa the Vegetarian" [3F03])
I met Doris on the set of "The Tracey Ullman Show" in 1987, where she was script supervisor. Sitting in a high director's chair with an open script in one hand and a cigarette in the other, Doris looked right at home in the midst of all the commotion. She seemed bemused by everything, and her funny, occasionally contrary comments on the proceedings cracked up the producers and actors - often prompting Tracey Ullman to reply with some deadpan remark delivered in a perfect imitation of Doris's gravelly voice. Doris was a real character, and everyone around her appreciated her for it.
When "The Simpsons" went into production as a series in 1989, Doris became the show's script supervisor. In those early, anxiety-ridden days before we went on the air, Doris blandly assured us all that the scripts were clever, so just calm down, dammit - always with a chuckle and a twinkle in her eye. Her calm, positive outlook did a lot to soothe my jangled nerves, and I made a point of sitting next to Doris during table readings of Simpsons scripts during the next five years. Table readings give the writers a chance to see which jokes work, and I always kept an eye on Doris, to see her reactions. She laughed a lot.
Doris soon became the only person in the history of the show to play a fictional character named after her - Lunchlady Doris. Her gruff, unsympathetic voice, so at odds with her personality, made Doris's lines all that much funnier to the writers and actors. A typical example: Yeardley Smith, playing Lisa, asks "Ah, excuse me? Isn't there anything here that doesn't have meat in it?" Lunch Lady Doris replies, loudly but with utter disdain: "Possibly the meatloaf."
After three years as script supervisor on "The Simpsons," Doris retired - to pursue acting, as she marvelled to me one morning. Among other jobs, Doris acted in Eddie Murphy's "The Distinguished Gentleman" and in former Simpsons writer Wallace Wolodarsky's "Coldblooded." She also did the voice of Makeup Lady Doris on Simpsons producers Mike Reiss and Al Jean's "The Critic," and you can hear her in the movie "Babe."
I had another connection to Doris, because I was good friends with her niece, the clothing designer Claudia Grau. (Claudia and my wife used to be housemates. It's a small world.) To Claudia, Doris was Aunt Dossy, "who always did things her own way and in her own style - and I really loved her for it." Claudia told me Doris was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Los Angeles, and that she'd been a script supervisor on tons of movies and TV shows (like Woody Allen's "sleeper" and Cheers"). She remembers Doris giving her an autographed copy of Elvis's "Blue Hawaii" album as a child, but just as vivid to Claudia were "all the different colors of bright red lipstick she kissed me in." Claudia also took great delight in watching Doris at Simpsons parties: "It was fun to see her with a cigarette and a bourbon and all these people gathered around her - she was practically holding court."
In December, Doris's emphysema got the better of her, and her health declined rapidly. On December 30, she died. Her friends all said she wanted absolutely no fuss made over her after she was gone, which of course is typical of Doris. Everyone at "The Simpsons" is saddened by her death, and we'll all miss her.
This page last updated on January 30, 2013 by Bruce Gomes (email@example.com)