For three decades, Yeardley Smith has voiced one of sitcom history‚Äôs most iconic characters: Lisa Simpson, the precocious, saxophone-playing 8-year-old on The Simpsons. Although The Simpsons may be her most recognizable role, Yeardley has a show business resume that‚Äôs impressive by any standard.
She‚Äôs appeared in numerous TV and movie roles and recently founded her own production company, Paperclip LTD. She also cohosts a popular true crime podcast called Small Town Dicks. Her cohosts are two real-life detectives (and identical twins) known only as Det. Dan and Det. Dave (to protect their identities).
When not working, Yeardley spends time at home with her best friends, Zipper and Petunia, her 12-year-old cats. She hadn‚Äôt been looking to adopt cats; at the time her life had turned upside down. ‚ÄúMy second marriage split up,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôd had two cats, and one of them had died a few years ago. That was Clementine. We still had Betsy ‚ÄĒ and Betsy was a handful. She was beautiful, but she was nervous and kind of like a domesticated feral cat.‚ÄĚ
Not wanting to further upset Betsy, who was then 15, Yeardley suggested that the cat continue to live with her soon-to-be ex-husband to keep her in familiar surroundings. Yeardley would visit to maintain a relationship with Betsy. While purchasing gifts at the pet store for an upcoming visit with Betsy, Yeardley spotted Zipper and Petunia together in a cage at an adoption event. ‚ÄúI said to myself, ‚ÄėNo, no, no. I can‚Äôt. My life is in flux,‚Äô‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúBut I couldn‚Äôt stop thinking about them and then two weeks later, I went back to the pet store and the same adoption group was having another adopt-a-cat day,‚ÄĚ she continues. ‚ÄúAnd they came home with me.‚ÄĚ
They‚Äôve been a close-knit family ever since. Yeardley built an elaborate cat gym ‚ÄĒ only for them to ignore it in favor of rolled up Post-it notes. Luckily, it looks like a piece of Danish sculpture ‚Äúbecause it‚Äôs literally on the wall of the stairwell,‚ÄĚ Yeardley laughs.
Yeardley‚Äôs love for cats goes beyond her home. A cat that inhabits Paperclip‚Äôs parking lot is well-taken care of. ‚ÄúWe call her Lily of the Alley.‚ÄĚ She‚Äôs also lent her name and donated money to animal welfare organizations, such as Best Friends and ASPCA. ‚ÄúI feel strongly about giving the best chance to our furry friends,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúAnything we can do to make their lives a little bit better, a little more comfortable and work with them. Just because we don‚Äôt speak their language, it‚Äôs arrogant to think their needs are less than ours.‚ÄĚ
Her own cats inspire optimism. Zipper and Petunia run to their human when she arrives home. Even Zipper, who went deaf a few years ago, somehow manages to know when Yeardley arrives home. ‚ÄúI love that kind of greeting, that love. It never wavers. I‚Äôm so grateful for that.‚ÄĚ
Featured photo: AF archive | Alamy Stock Image
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