Fans Are Remembering Donald Sutherland's Iconic Stint On The Simpsons Following His Death

"I just rewatched Lisa The Iconoclast and got teary-eyed..."
Donald Sutherland pictured in 2019
Donald Sutherland pictured in 2019
via Associated Press

With a career in film and TV spanning more than 60 years, there’s no mistaking that the late Donald Sutherland was a true acting legend.

Over the decades, the Canadian star appeared in everything from the classic The Dirty Dozen, the war comedy M*A*S*H and the unsettling domestic drama Don’t Look Now to the glossy Dirty Sexy Money and the epic Hunger Games series.

However, to many of us, he’ll always be Springfield historian Hollis Hurlbut.

Donald made a voice appearance in The Simpsons’ seventh season back in 1996, playing the leader of Springfield’s historical society in the episode Lisa The Iconoclast.

Donald Sutherland's character in The Simpsons, Hollis Hurlbut
Donald Sutherland's character in The Simpsons, Hollis Hurlbut

In the episode, Donald’s character befriends Lisa as she tries to work on a school project about the town’s founder Jebediah Springfield. However, when she discovers some uncomfortable historical truths, Hollis goes to extreme lengths to try and keep them hidden.

The Simpsons’ writing team said they came up with the character of Hollis with Donald in mind to voice him, with the award-winning actor even ad libbing one memorable line that made it into the final episode.

The script was specifically written with Donald Sutherland in mind playing the part of the historian. He ad-libbed the line "you had arthritis?" in this scene and the producers liked it so much that they kept it.

— On This Day in Simpsons History 🇺🇦 (@dailysimpsons) February 18, 2021

After the news of his death was confirmed on Thursday, many Simpsons fans took a moment to remember Donald’s performance in the much-loved episode…

Donald Sutherland as Hollis Hurlbut in "Lisa the Iconoclast" from Season 7 of The Simpsons.

One of the great all-time guest performances. RIP

— Mike Beauvais (@MikeBeauvais) June 20, 2024

I know Donald Sutherland had a stellar career spanning multiple decades of incredible work

But in my mind he will forever be, first and foremost, the museum curator from Lisa the Iconoclast (one of my all-time favorite Simpsons episodes)

— The Aerial Feminist (@AerialFeminist) June 20, 2024

I know it's not his biggest or most important role, but Donald Sutherland was one of the few Simpsons guess actors who made it feel like his character actually lived in that world.

— Michael Fearnow (@bogeymanweather) June 20, 2024

Aww this is sad news.

I'll always remember Donald Sutherland for his EXCELLENT and highly memorable guest appearance on The Simpsons as the wonderful one-off character Hollis Hurlbut. He was so charming and his voice so relaxing, a brilliant performance.

Rest in peace

— Beau Bridgland (@BeauVO) June 20, 2024

On top of everything else, Sutherland was a top-10 Simpsons guest star

— Zack Budryk (@BudrykZack) June 20, 2024

RIP Donald Sutherland. An absolute legend with a wealth of credits in some of the biggest films to exist but I always think of his role in the Simpsons...

"You're banned from this historical society. You and your children, and your children's children... for three months"

— Billy Walker 🖤🤍 (@BadJokeBilly91) June 20, 2024

RIP Donald Sutherland. I hope that wherever you are, your microwave johnnycakes are ready

— Stefan Mohamed (@stefmowords) June 20, 2024

As always when a Hollywood star dies, I immediately think of their turn in The Simpsons.

Donald Sutherland was brilliant as the curator of the local historical society.

— David Strathdee (@David_Strathdee) June 20, 2024

Donald Sutherland was one of those actors that always made what he was in better, but I’ll forever associate him with one of my top 5 Simpsons jokes of all time

— Tom Hartig (@wthartig) June 20, 2024

Sutherland's delivery of this line is world-class. Proof that you can actually make a joke funnier by underselling it even in the world of voice-over animation. (Furthermore, Sutherland apparently ad-libbed the line!)

— BILL RYAN (@faceyouhate) June 20, 2024

One of the very greatest and most under-sung Simpsons guest voices. The character is superbly written but Sutherland’s voicework makes him as fully realised as many who have appeared in 100+ episodes.

— David Neary (@DeusExCinema) June 20, 2024

My first introduction to Sutherland was on the Simpsons, and he's one of the guest stars that I remember the most. He brought such life to Hollis and made him truly memorable. It's one of my favorite episodes. RIP

— Chris, when the walls fell (@TygurTriple7) June 20, 2024

Donald Sutherland doesn't seem like he's often talked about as one of the great Simpsons guest stars but he should be

— Samosa Joan (@SamosaJoan) June 20, 2024

I just rewatched Lisa the Iconoclast and got teary eyed this is the emotional state we're working with now

— Ewan Paterson (@EwanRuinsThings) June 20, 2024

Interestingly, in 1975, Donald played a character named Homer Simpson in the historical satire The Day Of The Locust.

His son Kiefer Sutherland would go on to appear in three different episodes of The Simpsons, including one appearance as his 24 character Jack Bauer.

Lisa The Iconoclast is available to stream now on Disney+.


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