Seth MacFarlane Biography: 'Family Guy' to 'Ted'

Born October 26th, 1973 in Kent, Connecticut, Seth MacFarlane started his animation domination at a young age when he began sketching popular cartoon characters like Woody Woodpecker and Fred Flintstone. He followed his dreams and enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he produced "The Life of Larry." The folks at Hanna-Barbera got hold of that animated short and hired the young up-and-comer. Pretty soon, he was making deals with FOX for his own series, and "Family Guy" was born. From there he became an important name in cartoon history with his popular spin-offs and even films like "Ted." In this video, WatchMojo.com learns more about the life and career of Seth MacFarlane.
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Biography of Seth MacFarlane


You may not recognize his face, but you definitely know his voice. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be learning more about the life and career of Seth MacFarlane.

Early Years


Seth Woodbury MacFarlane was born October 26th, 1973 in Kent, Connecticut. At age two, he began sketching beloved characters like Woody Woodpecker and Fred Flintstone and soon, his hometown paper ran an original cartoon strip he created.

“The Life of Larry”


After high school, MacFarlane followed his dream by enrolling in film, video and animation at one of the country’s top art schools, the Rhode Island School of Design. While there, he produced the animated short “The Life of Larry” in 1995, and this served as both his thesis and as a prototype for the show that eventually made him famous.

Hanna-Barbera


The powers-that-be at the legendary animation house Hanna-Barbera got hold of “Larry” and were so impressed with MacFarlane’s skills, they hired him to work on shows like “Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Johnny Bravo.”

FOX


MacFarlane then produced a follow-up to “Larry,” which got the attention of Fox: after a failed attempt to hire him to create animated skits for “MADtv,” network execs gave MacFarlane $50 thousand for an animated pilot. Six months of hard work, hand-drawing and channeling his edgy humor paid off when Fox picked up MacFarlane’s show.

“Family Guy”


“Family Guy”’s debut episode got a plum spot right after Super Bowl XXXIII, when 22 million people tuned in to see the show’s wealth of pop culture references and its crude, politically-incorrect humor.

The Voice Behind the Characters


Not only was MacFarlane the creative mind behind the project; he was also the voice of many of the shows main characters. In 2000, he took home a Primetime Emmy for his voice-over work.

“Family Guy” Cancelled


Unfortunately, the network tossed the show from timeslot to timeslot. This cost the series valuable followers, and eventually “Family Guy” was officially cancelled in 2002. That was the same year MacFarlane won an Emmy for Outstanding Music and Lyrics.

Break from Cartoons


But, life after “Family Guy” was not dull for this up-and-comer: MacFarlane lent his voice to a few other animated shows, and appeared on-screen in programs like “Gilmore Girls” and “Star Trek: Enterprise.” He also began developing a new adult-oriented cartoon series.

“Family Guy” Comeback


Meanwhile, just because “Family Guy” was off the air did not mean people stopped watching: the show won legions of fans through reruns and DVD sales. This renewed interest resuscitated the show, and Fox made the shocking move to bring new episodes of the series to TV in 2005.

“American Dad”


MacFarlane also unveiled a new show that year: “American Dad” eventually became a success, with MacFarlane again taking on voice roles and skewering right-wing politics.

Change of Pace


With two hit cartoons, MacFarlane set out to do something different. In 2007, he served as executive producer on the Rob Corddry series “The Winner,” but it failed after just six episodes. The next year, he made a splash online with the webseries “Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy.”

“The Cleveland Show”


But MacFarlane had more hit cartoon ideas up his sleeve: the “Family Guy” spinoff “The Cleveland Show” began in 2009, and MacFarlane became the highest-paid TV producer to that point with a $100 million, three-year deal for his three shows.

Singing Career


In 2010, he appeared in the critically-panned but commercially successful comedy “Tooth Fairy,” and began serving as host of various Comedy Central Roasts. MacFarlane then showed off his impressive musical talent by releasing “Music is Better Than Words” in 2011, where he sang big band, jazz and traditional standards.

“Ted” and “Cosmos”


He branched out in 2012 by making his feature-length directorial debut with “Ted,” where he also voiced the title character. But perhaps his most atypical project was a revival of Carl Sagan’s popular show “Cosmos,” in an effort to underscore the importance of science.

Scandal


As a comedian, MacFarlane’s humor has sometimes gotten him into trouble: he has been named in various lawsuits and his sometimes offensive shows have been the subject of boycott attempts. However, MacFarlane has offered his support for issues like gay rights and marriage equality.

Legacy


Despite the controversy, MacFarlane has led the charge for “Animation Domination,” and has become a star in the process. With his quick wit, talent and trademark voice, Seth MacFarlane became one of the most important names in cartoon history.
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