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Seth MacFarlane
A man with black hair, and tan skin with a black shirt on, leans forward while laughing into a microphone.
Seth MacFarlane at Comic-Con 2009
Born Seth Woodbury MacFarlane
October 26, 1973 (1973-10-26) (age 36)
Kent, Connecticut, U.S.
Occupation Actor, animator, writer, singer, producer, voice actor
Years active 1995–present

Seth Woodbury MacFarlane (born October 26, 1973) is an American animator, writer, producer, actor, singer, voice actor, and director best known for creating the animated sitcoms Family Guy, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show, for which he also voices many of the characters. He currently owns his own production company, Fuzzy Door Productions.[1][2]

As an actor, he has made guest appearances on shows such as Gilmore Girls and The War at Home. MacFarlane's interest in science fiction and fantasy has led to cameo and guest appearances on Star Trek: Enterprise and voicing the character of Johann Kraus in Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy II: The Golden Army, as well as singing for the opening credits in the film Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder. His cartoon shows are known for spoof references to popular fiction in movies and on television. In 2008, he made his own YouTube channel called Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy. As a singer, MacFarlane is notable for performing Broadway tunes on his shows. His best known live performance was in the BBC Proms 2009,[3] where, during the encore, MacFarlane briefly sang in Stewie's voice.

He occasionally speaks at universities and colleges throughout the United States. A recent deal signed with The Fox Broadcasting Company, reportedly worth $100 million, has made MacFarlane the highest-paid television writer and producer in history. He resides in Beverly Hills, where he purchased a $13.5 million home.[4]


Early life

MacFarlane was born on October 26, 1973, in Kent, Connecticut.[5] His mother, Ann Perry (née Sager), and father, Ronald Milton MacFarlane, are natives of Newburyport, Massachusetts, and are of Scottish, English and Welsh ancestry, partly by way of Canada.[6][7] During his childhood, MacFarlane developed an interest in illustration and began drawing cartoon characters Fred Flintstone and Woody Woodpecker.[8] When he was nine years old, he drew "Walter Crouton," a comic strip for the The Kent Good Times Dispatch.[9]

MacFarlane received his high school diploma in 1991 from the Episcopalian-affiliated Kent School in Connecticut. His headmaster, the Rev. Richardson W. Schell, publicly rebuked MacFarlane for his "low" style of humor and later asked Fox not to air Family Guy.[10] MacFarlane's parents, who both taught at the school, resigned in protest.[11]

MacFarlane went on to study animation at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree.[9] As a student, he wanted to work for The Walt Disney Company, but changed his mind upon graduating.[12] At RISD, he made a thesis film entitled The Life of Larry.[9] His professor submitted MacFarlane's cartoon to Hanna-Barbera, where he was later hired.[13]

Career in animation and television

At Hanna-Barbera, MacFarlane worked as an animator and writer for Cartoon Network's Cartoon Cartoons series.[14] He also worked on Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, and Dexter's Laboratory.[15] MacFarlane also created and wrote a short titled "Zoomates" for Frederator Studios' Oh Yeah! Cartoons on Nickelodeon.[16] In 1996, MacFarlane created a sequel to The Life of Larry called Larry and Steve, which featured a middle-aged character named Larry and an intellectual dog, Steve. The short was broadcast as one of Cartoon Network's World Premiere Toons. Executives at Fox saw both Larry shorts and contracted MacFarlane to create a series based on the characters, to be called Family Guy.[1]

At 24, MacFarlane was television's youngest executive producer.[8] Fox proposed MacFarlane complete a 15-minute short, giving him a budget of $50,000.[17] MacFarlane stated that the pilot for Family Guy took half a year to create and produce.[13] Recalling the experience in an interview with The New York Times, MacFarlane stated, "I spent about six months with no sleep and no life, just drawing like crazy in my kitchen and doing this pilot."[18]

Bolstered by high DVD sales and established fan loyalty, Family Guy developed into a $1 billion franchise.[17] On May 4, 2008, after approximately two and a half years of negotiations, MacFarlane reached a $100 million agreement with Fox to keep Family Guy and American Dad until 2012. The agreement makes him the world's highest paid television writer.[19]

Family Guy

Family Guy first aired January 31, 1999.[20] MacFarlane's work in animating Family Guy has been influenced by Jackie Gleason and Woody Allen's work, along with examples from The Simpsons and All in the Family.[21] In addition to writing three episodes, "Death Has a Shadow", "Family Guy Viewer Mail 1" and "North by North Quahog", MacFarlane voices Family Guy's main characters – Peter Griffin, Stewie Griffin, Brian Griffin and Glenn Quagmire as well as Tom Tucker and his son Jake and additional characters.

MacFarlane's success with Family Guy has opened doors to other ventures relating to Family Guy. On April 26, 2005, he and composer Walter Murphy created Family Guy: Live in Vegas. The soundtrack features a Broadway show tune theme, and MacFarlane voiced Stewie in the track "Stewie's Sexy Party".[22] A fan of Broadway musicals,[1] MacFarlane comments on using musicals as a component to Family Guy:

"I love the lush orchestration and old-fashioned melody writing ... it just gets you excited, that kind of music," he said. "It's very optimistic. And it's fun. The one thing that's missing for me from popular music today is fun. Guys like [Bing] Crosby, or [Frank] Sinatra, or Dean Martin, or Mel Tormé [...] these are guys who sounded like they were having a great time".[23]

In addition, a Family Guy video game was released in 2006.[24] Two years later, in August 2007, he closed a digital content production deal with AdSense.[25] MacFarlane takes cast members on the road to voice characters in front of live audiences. Family Guy Live provides fans with the opportunity to hear future scripts. In mid-2007, Chicago fans had the opportunity to hear the then upcoming sixth season premiere "Blue Harvest". Shows have been played in Montreal, New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.[26]

On July 22, 2007, in an interview with "The Hollywood Reporter", MacFarlane announced that he may start working on a feature film, although "nothing's official."[27] In September 2007, Ricky Blitt gave an interview confirming that he had already started working on the script.[28] Then in TV Week on July 18, 2008, MacFarlane confirmed plans to produce a theatrically released Family Guy feature film sometime "within the next year".[29] He came up with an idea for the story, "something that you could not do on the show, which [to him] is the only reason to do a movie." He later went to say he imagines the film to be "an old-style musical with dialogue" similar to The Sound of Music, saying that he would "really be trying to capture, musically, that feel."[30]

Despite its popularity, Family Guy has not been immune to criticism.[31] The Parents Television Council frequently criticizes Family Guy for its content and has organized letter-writing campaigns aimed at removing Family Guy from FOX's lineup.[32] MacFarlane has responded to these comments by saying, among other things, "That’s like getting hate mail from Hitler. They’re literally terrible human beings."[33] Family Guy has been cancelled twice, although strong fan support and DVD sales have caused Fox to reconsider.[34] MacFarlane mentioned how these cancellations affected the lineup of writers each time Fox again gave Family Guy the green light, "One of the positive aspects of 'Family Guy' constantly being pulled off [the air] is that we were always having to restaff writers".[23]

During the sixth season, episodes of Family Guy and American Dad! were delayed from regular broadcast due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike (which MacFarlane participated in to support the writers while FOX aired three Family Guy episodes without MacFarlane's permission). On February 12, 2008, the strike ended,[35] and the series resumed airing regularly, beginning with "Back to the Woods".

American Dad!

Seth co-created American Dad!, with Matt Weitzman and Mike Barker. American Dad! was first shown after Super Bowl XXXIX as a sneak preview on February 6, 2005. The show began airing regularly on Fox on May 1, 2005.[36][37] MacFarlane describes the show being similar to All in the Familyl[23] However, many critics and television bloggers have noticed distinct similarities to the spoof series "Sledge Hammer!" especially in regards to the main character's penchant for being trigger-happy and shooting everything in sight[citation needed].

American Dad! received its inspiration from President George W. Bush's policies.[38] The show focuses on Stan Smith, a straight-laced CIA officer and fanatical neoconservative. Stan's wife (Francine) and children, (Hayley and Steve), share a typical middle class home with Roger, an extraterrestrial rescued by Stan from Area 51, and Klaus, a goldfish who hosts the transplanted brain of an East German, 1986 Olympian skier.[39][40] Seth MacFarlane provides the voices of Stan and Roger, basing Roger's voice on Paul Lynde as he played Uncle Arthur in Bewitched.[8] His sister Rachael MacFarlane provides the voice of Hayley Smith.[41]

The Winner

MacFarlane was the executive producer of a live-action sitcom starring Rob Corddry called The Winner. The show premiered on Fox on March 4, 2007.[42] The plot has a man named Glen discussing the time he matured at 32 and has him pursuing his only love after she moves in next door. Glen meets her son and both become good friends.[43]

After six episodes, the show was officially canceled on May 16, 2007.[44] However, at Family Guy Live in Montreal on July 21, 2007, Seth MacFarlane stated, "It is looking like there could be a future life for The Winner".[45] After MacFarlane's statement neither Fox nor MacFarlane has released any details of plans for the show to return. The show was mentioned in the Family Guy episode "Family Gay" where all of the horses at a racing track are named after failed Fox shows, The Winner being one of them.

The Cleveland Show

Seth MacFarlane has recently developed a Family Guy spin-off called The Cleveland Show, which focuses on the character of Cleveland Brown and his family. The idea for the show originated from a suggestion by Family Guy writer and voice of Cleveland, Mike Henry. Fox has ordered 22 episodes and the series first aired on September 27, 2009. Due to the cancellation of Mike Judge's King of the Hill,[46] the American adaptation of Sit Down, Shut Up being moved to Saturday nights,[47] and the renewal of American Dad!, The Simpsons is now the only cartoon on Fox's "Animation Domination" line-up that was not created by Seth MacFarlane. The show, which was picked up to air a first season consisting of 22 episodes,[48] was picked up by Fox for a second season, consisting of 13 episodes, bringing the total number to 35 episodes. The announcement was made on May 3, 2009 before the first season even premiered.[49] Due to strong ratings FOX picked up the back 9 episodes of season 2 which would make a 22 episode season and bring the total episode count of the show to 44.[50]

Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy

On September 10, 2008, MacFarlane released a series of webisodes known as Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy. These animated shorts were distributed by Burger King and released weekly.[51] The series saw a successful launch with Seth MacFarlane's YouTube Channel, SethComedy, becoming the most watched YouTube channel of the week obtaining over 3 million video views only two days after the first episode (a Super Mario Bros. parody) was released.[52] They have since been released to DVD and Blu-Ray.


MacFarlane appeared in the September 24, 2009 premiere episode of ABC's science-fiction drama FlashForward and will have a recurring role in the series.[53]

Fourth FOX Animated Show

MacFarlane's fourth animated show is currently in the works, According to Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly[54]

“He’s stretched thin [MacFarlane] We’ve got one other show we’re contemplating with Seth and looking to broaden our animation brand out too. I love working with the guy, but our plan is not all Seth, all the time. He has something up his sleeve that’s animated, so we’re going to continue to be in business with him for quite a few years and I think you’ll see us to broaden out that brand a little bit.”

Also, it has been revealed that Alex Borstein, who plays Lois among others, is the main character of the show, meaning this will be the first of his shows to be based on a woman. The show will once again be based around a disfunctional family, with talking pets once again. The show will be very similar to Family Guy according to Alex.[55]

Guest appearances

A man with black hair leans forward, looking down to sign an autograph.
Seth MacFarlane signs autographs at the Star Wars Convention in Los Angeles on May 26, 2007.

MacFarlane has appeared in sitcoms, comedy and news programs, independent films, and other animated shows. In 2002, MacFarlane appeared in the Gilmore Girls episode "Lorelai's Graduation Day".[13] Four years later on November 5, 2006, MacFarlane guest starred on Fox's The War at Home as "Hillary's Date", an unnamed 33-year-old man who secretly dates teenaged Hillary in the episode "I Wash My Hands of You".[12][56] MacFarlane has also appeared as the engineer Ensign Rivers on the show Star Trek: Enterprise in the third season episode "The Forgotten" and the fourth season episode "Affliction".[57] During 2006, Seth had a role in the short independent film Life is Short. His character is Dr. Ned, a psychologist who advises a short man (played by Freaks and Geeks star Samm Levine) to have relationships with taller women.[58] He is also a frequent guest on the radio talkshow Loveline, hosted by Dr. Drew Pinsky.

In Fox's comedy show MADtv on November 11, 2006, MacFarlane appeared and showed a live action re-enactment of a scene from the Family Guy episode "Fast Times at Buddy Cianci Jr. High". In the scene, Peter and Lois suspect Chris of murdering his teacher's husband. As a reaction, Meg jumps out the window in fear. The actress playing Meg was rumoured to have bled to death after her window stunt, which was actually part of the scene. A version with McFarlane as Peter, Nicole Parker as Kathy Griffin as Lois, Ike Barinholtz as Dane Cook as Chris, Nicole Randall Johnson as Queen Latifah as Meg, and Keegan-Michael Key as Snoop Dogg as Stewie was recorded over the original cartoon.[59] MacFarlane served as a host to the Canadian Awards for the Electronic & Animated Arts's Second Annual Elan Awards on February 15, 2008.[60]

A closeup of a man's face, the man has black hair, and slight stubble on his chin and above his lip.
Seth MacFarlane at Rhode Island School of Design.

MacFarlane has also appeared on news shows and late night television shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live![61] and Late Show with David Letterman.[62] On January 19, 2007, MacFarlane appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC to discuss Stephen Colbert's appearance on The O'Reilly Factor and Bill O'Reilly's return appearance on The Colbert Report. MacFarlane introduced the segment by saying in Stewie's voice "Oh, wait Bill. Hold still, allow me to soil myself on you. Victory is mine!"[63] Three months later on March 24, 2007, MacFarlane was interviewed on Fox's Talkshow with Spike Feresten,[64] and closed the show by singing the Frank Sinatra song "You Make Me Feel So Young".[65] He also provided Stewie's voice when he appeared as a brain tumor-induced hallucination to Seeley Booth in an episode of Bones, writing his own dialogue for the episode.[66] On May 8, 2009, MacFarlane was a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher.[67]

Other than Family Guy and American Dad!, MacFarlane voices characters in other cartoon shows and movies. He voiced Wayne "The Main Brain" McClain in an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force.[68] He has also voiced various characters on Adult Swim's Robot Chicken, including a parody of Lion-O and Emperor Palpatine as well as Peter Griffin in the Season 2 premiere – he even parodied himself in the Season 4 premiere, in which he renewed the show simply by mentioning it in a Family Guy-like cutaway after its fictitious cancellation at the end of Season 3. He also played the villain "The Manotaur" in Bob Boyle's animated kids series Yin-Yang-Yo!.[69] In addition, MacFarlane voiced Johann Krauss in the 2008 film Hellboy II: The Golden Army.[70] He also had a guest appearance in the animated film Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder.[71] He had also starred in a commercial for Hulu in which he plays an alien presenting Hulu as an "evil plot to destroy the world," progressively as his famous Family Guy and American Dad! characters.

On August 1, 2009, MacFarlane performed at The BBC Proms with John Wilson and his orchestra, singing a selection of songs from MGM musicals[72] alongside Kim Criswell, Sarah Fox, Sir Thomas Allen, and Curtis Stigers.[73][74] Three songs from High Society, Singin' in the Rain, and That's Entertainment were featured.

Speaking engagements

MacFarlane is a frequent speaking guest on college campuses.[75] On April 16, 2006, he was invited by Stanford University's ASSU Speakers' Bureau to address an audience of over 9,000 at Memorial Auditorium.[76] MacFarlane was invited by Harvard University's class of 2006 to deliver the "class day" address on June 7, 2006. He spoke as himself, as Peter Griffin, as Stewie Griffin, and as Glenn Quagmire.[77] He has also delivered speeches at George Washington University,[75] Washington University in St. Louis,[15] the University of Texas,[78] the University of Missouri,[79] University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University[80] and Loyola Marymount University[81]. On April 27, 2009, MacFarlane appeared as a guest on the Howard Stern Radio Show.[82]

Personal life

MacFarlane identifies himself as a Star Wars, Star Trek and science fiction fan.[57][83] He appeared at a Star Wars convention to promote his new Family Guy episode "Blue Harvest" on May 26, 2007.[84] He is a skilled pianist and singer who, in his early years, trained with an elderly couple who were Frank Sinatra's vocal coaches.[1] He also partakes in the jazz club scene. In November 2008, having been denied entry to the popular Crown Bar in Los Angeles, MacFarlane responded by sending $5,000 worth of flowers to the club.[85]

A man wearing a gray jacket and black shirt, with black hair and light skin, points with his right hand with his arm fully extended.
Seth MacFarlane speaks at a Writers Guild of America rally in Culver City on November 9, 2007.

He is unmarried.[86] In 2004, in an interview with The Daily Princetonian, MacFarlane noted his similarities to Brian on Family Guy, revealing, "I have some Brian type issues from time to time – looking for the right person – but I date as much as the next guy".[87] MacFarlane is also an atheist.[33]

Gay rights support

MacFarlane came to support gay rights and gay marriage after a family member wondered aloud whether his gay cousin's homosexuality could be cured.[33] The incident angered MacFarlane, who said in a 2008 interview in The Advocate, it "was fucking horrifying to hear from somebody that you love."[33] He credits his parents for raising him to be a logical person, in reference to his support for gay rights.[33]

MacFarlane is passionate about his support for gay rights.[33] He said it is "infuriating and idiotic" that two gay partners "have to go through this fucking dog and pony act when they stop at a hotel and the guy behind the counter says, 'You want one room or two?'" He went on to say, "I'm incredibly passionate about my support for the gay community and what they're dealing with at this current point in time".[33] MacFarlane went on to wonder, "Why is it that Johnny Spaghetti Stain in fucking Georgia can knock a woman up, legally be married to her, and then beat the shit out of her, but these two intelligent, sophisticated writers who have been together for 20 years can't get married?"[33]

Activism and the 2008 Writers' Strike

During the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, MacFarlane publicly sided with the Writers Guild, and fully participated in the strike.[88] Official production of Family Guy was halted for most of December 2007 and various periods afterwards. Fox continued producing episodes without MacFarlane's final approval, and although he refused to work on the show during the strike, his contract with Fox required him to contribute to any episodes it subsequently produced.[89] Rumors of continued production on Family Guy prompted the statement from MacFarlane that " would just be a colossal dick move if they [continued production without his final approval]".[89] The strike ended on February 12, 2008.[35]

Political beliefs

MacFarlane is a supporter of the Democratic Party.[33] He has donated over $50,000 to various Democratic congressional committees and to the 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama.[90]

Experience with September 11, 2001 attacks

On the morning of September 11, 2001, MacFarlane was scheduled to return to Los Angeles on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston, Massachusetts. Suffering from a hangover from the previous night's celebrations,[91] and with an incorrect departure time (8:15 a.m. instead of 7:45 a.m.) from his travel agent,[92] he arrived at Logan International Airport sometime around 7:30 and was unable to board the flight as the gates had been closed.[92] Fifteen minutes after departure, American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked,[93] and at 8:46 a.m. was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, obliterating the airplane and later destroying the building.[94]

In an interview with, MacFarlane said the following about his close call:

The only reason it hasn’t really affected me as it maybe could have is I didn’t really know that I was in any danger until after it was over, so I never had that panic moment. After the fact, it was sobering, but people have a lot of close calls; you’re crossing the street and you almost get hit by a car… this one just happened to be related to something massive. I really can’t let it affect me because I’m a comedy writer. I have to put that in the back of my head.[95]

Critical praise and awards

MacFarlane was named Entertainment Weekly's "Smartest Person in TV" in 2008.[96]

MacFarlane received two Emmy awards for his vocal performances and music on Family Guy. He has also received awards for his work in animation. When MacFarlane provided a speech as himself, Peter Griffin, Stewie Griffin, and Glen Quagmire at Harvard's 2006 Class Day, he was granted a certificate as an honorary member of the 2006 class of Harvard University.[97] He received an honorary doctorate of fine arts at his alma mater's commencement on June 2, 2007.[98]

Year Award Category Result
2000 Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Voice-over Performance. Stewie Griffin, Family Guy. Won[99]
2002 Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Music and Lyrics. Family Guy Won[99]
2006 Annie Award winner for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production. Stewie Griffin, "Brian the Bachelor" episode. Family Guy. Won[100]
2007 1st Annual Wave Awards, Academy of Wireless Arts, Video and Entertainment 2007 Favorite Clippes (from television) Comedy Series, Family Guy Won[101]
2009 Webby Award by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences Film & Video Person of the Year 2009 Won[101]
2009 Emmy Award nominee for Outstanding Voice-over Performance. Peter Griffin, "I Dream of Jesus" episode. Family Guy Nominated[102]


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External links

Simple English

Seth MacFarlane
File:Seth MacFarlane by Gage
Seth MacFarlane
Born Seth Woodbury MacFarlane
October 26, 1973 (1973-10-26) (age 37)
Kent, Connecticut
Years active 1995 - present

Seth Woodbury MacFarlane is the creator of Family Guy and American Dad. He was born on October 26, 1973, in a Connecticut town named Kent.

Early years and beginning of Family Guy

MacFarlane went to Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), a school in Rhode Island where he studied animation. He made a short cartoon film named, The Life of Larry during his senior year. He worked at Hanna-Barbera writing and making cartoons for Johnny Bravo. FOX, a media network, saw The Life of Larry and offered him $50,000 to make a pilot.

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