SHE DIDN’T go by “Marge.” But her first name — Margaret — did inspire the naming of one of TV history’s most famous mothers. And her maiden name — Wiggum — also turned up all over her son’s landmark show.
In the ‘80s, when cartoonist Matt Groening needed names for his yellow-hued nuclear family, he naturally turned to his family — including his dad, Homer, and sisters Lisa and Maggie. (Bart, by contrast, was entirely invented as an anagram for “Brat.”)
Groening’s creation for producer James L. Brooks — animated interstitials for “The Tracey Ullman Show” on the fledgling Fox network — would lead, of course, to “The Simpsons,” the longest-running scripted TV program ever and counting (the show’s about to wrap Season 24).
And the blue-hairdoed matriarch of “The Simpsons,” Marge Simpson (voiced by Julie Kavner), is forever linked to Margaret Groening.
“In interviews over the years, Groening's mother pointed out that she didn't go by ‘Marge,’ “ the Oregonian reports. “But that didn't stop fans from equating her with the ever-tolerant, ever-doting mother on ‘The Simpsons.’ “
The obituary says that “Margaret and Homer [who died in 1996] supported the Oregon Symphony, the Portland Trail Blazers and many local yarn shops (Margaret was a talented needlework artist).” She also was high-school valedictorian and went on to teach high-school English, says Oregon Public Broadcasting — which notes that she married Homer because “he made her laugh the most.”
Read one comment on the site’s guest book: “Condolences to the Groening family, and thank you for inspiring much joy and laughter.”
Wrote another commenter: “Condolences to all the Groening family. By a strange route, Margaret was an inspiration to millions.”
Margaret Ruth Wiggum Groening was 94.
[IN MEMORIAM: Matt Groening remembers “Futurama” producer Alex Johns, 43]