Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Charles Montgomery "Monty" Burns (usually simply Mr. Burns), a fictional character, is the owner of the Springfield Nuclear Powerplant in The Simpsons cartoon series. He is fabulously wealthy, and due to his status as Springfield's leading (and perhaps only) plutocrat, Mr. Burns is able to do whatever he wants with little or no consequences. He is attended at almost all times by Waylon Smithers, his loyal aide and confidant. Harry Shearer is the voice behind the character of Mr. Burns. Burns is basically a portrayal of the stereotypical emotionless billionaire who lives in a massive mansion.
Originally, this character was simply called Montgomery Burns, but in an early episode, called "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish," he yelled "You can't do this to me, I'm Charles Montgomery Burns!", which plays on a quotation from Orson Welles's Citizen Kane ("You can't do this to me, I'm Charles Foster Kane!"). His catchphrase is the word "Excellent" muttered in a low, sinister voice with tented fingertips (see Davros).
His age is most often mentioned as being 104 years. (Though once in the episode "Simpson and Delilah" where Homer became an executive, he stated his age as 81 after Homer guessed 102; and he once had a ninetieth birthday during the series.) He has credited his longevity to Satan. He has the same blood type as Bart Simpson, "double-O negative". According to tests done at the Mayo Clinic, he has every single disease known to man, and survives only because they are just barely but perfectly counteracting one another. This fictional medical anomaly is called "Three Stooges Syndrome."
Burns was originally the real villain of the show. However, his very frail, weak body and 19th century mind have become some of the show's running gags; except of course in 'The Simpsons Halloween Special II' where Burns clearly has a strong arm while beating the bag with a shovel in which Homer is still alive.
Occasional flashbacks show his early life. When he was very young he lived happily with his loving, natural parents, little brother George, and his teddy bear Bobo. He chose to give this up and live with a twisted billionaire, again reminiscint of Welles' Citizen Kane. He has since recovered the bear. His mother is still alive, despite her likely age being in the area of 125-140, and is very resentful of her son.
The Burns family owned nuclear factories at the start of the 20th century, although back then splitting atoms was a labor intensive process done with hammers and anvils. As a privileged rich child Burns would amuse himself by injuring hapless immigrant laborers. Burns still sometimes imagines that such activity is still a socially acceptable amusement for the well-to-do. He and his family members are usually portrayed as the prototypes of early capitalist exploiters. Burns claims to have ridden a fat man to work for a time.
Burns graduated from Yale University in the class of 1914 (accordingly, it is probable that he was born in 1892). At Yale, he was tapped for the infamous Skull and Bones secret society. He may have had an affair with Countess von Zeppelin, and Burns apparently speaks fluent German. His mother is now 120 years old and once had an affair with President William Taft; Burns himself claims to have personally known President Calvin Coolidge. He served in the United States Army in World War II, seeing action in Europe under Sergeant Abraham Simpson (see also: Flying Hellfish squad).
At the end of the war he was personally hired by Harry Truman to transport a trillion-dollar bill that was the American Government's original contribution to the reconstruction of Europe, but this bill vanished for many years. Though it was discovered to be carried on his person, besides a single failed arrest attempt there was no known investigation or attempt to retrieve the stolen bill, which is now currently in the hands of Fidel Castro who stole it. He admits to making shells for the Nazis that worked, unlike Oskar Schindler's.
During the 1960s Burns operated a biological weapons laboratory until it was destroyed by peace activists including Mona Simpson. Shortly thereafter he built the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, obtaining a monopoly over Springfield's energy industry. He also owns the water works and the hotel on Baltic Avenue. Burns has been known to use his control over the city's energy to blackmail the mayor, and the town in general.
He has occasionally run other businesses in Springfield, most notably a casino that operated for several years after Springfield legalized gambling. He co-owned the "Li'l Lisa" recycling plant. He slant-drilled for oil under Springfield Elementary School.
Burns now lives in a mansion on an immense estate called Burns Manor located at the corner of Croesus and Mammon streets in Springfield (his address is 1000 Mammon Street), the site of the annual company picnic: "But now it's time to say goodbye. Please get off my property, until next year. I suggest you don't dawdle. The hounds will be released in 10 minutes."
Besides attack dogs, this estate includes a robotic Richard Simmons, a room with a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters, a bottomless pit, a human chessboard (formerly a tennis court), the largest television in the free world, a Hall of Patriots commemorating his ancestors, and artifacts such as the only existing nude photo of Mark Twain, the suit Charlie Chaplin was buried in, and a rare first draft of the Constitution with the word "suckers" in it. His telephone number is 636-555-0001 in 'Lisa's Date With Density,' and 636-555-0113 in 'Tale of Two Springfields'. His Social Security number is 000-00-0002 (After filing his Social Security number on a form, he curses Franklin Roosevelt, who apparently must've gotten 000-00-0001).
In 1995 Burns built an elaborate contraption to block out the sun in Springfield, thus ensuring that citizens would have to use his electricity 24 hours a day. The move earned him widespread animosity, and he was ultimately shot, accidentally as it turns out, by Maggie Simpson. Before Maggie was revealed to be the shooter there was a widespread investigation over nearly every citizen in town, as Burns had angered just about everyone with some of his policies over the years. (see: "Who Shot Mr. Burns?") There have been indications over the following years that Maggie might have shot him intentionally. However, in episode 905 ("The Cartrige Family"), Marge says that there should be no guns in their house, because "do you remember when Maggie shot Mr Burns?" Homer responds, "I thought that was Mr Smithers!" Under her breath, Lisa mutters, "Well, that would have made more sense . . . ."
Burns is a staunchly conservative Republican and is the head of Springfield's local Republican Party (other members include Sideshow Bob, Rainer Wolfcastle, Dr. Hibbert , Krusty the Clown, Bob Dole, Ralph Nader, and Count Dracula). In a parody of Rupert Murdoch, he once attempted to buy every media outlet in Springfield but his plans failed after Lisa started her own newspaper.
Burns has a son, Larry Burns, the product of a brief affair in 1939 with Lily Bancroft, daughter of a Yale classmate. Her family forced her to give up Larry to a orphanage, and according to Burns, they "bundled her up to a convent in the South Seas." Bart Simpson was briefly his heir. It is not known who presently stands to inherit his wealth (his manservant and sole confidante, Waylon Smithers, is to be buried alive in Burns' coffin).
State of mind
While fully alert and untouched by senility, Burns is wildly out of touch with the modern world. He often slips into using language appropriate for the early 20th century or even the 19th century (such as using "score", meaning 20 years, and "twain", meaning 2 years, in a sentence) -- he thinks that Prussia is still a separate country (it became part of Germany in the 1870s), that Thailand is still called Siam, Congo is still called Belgian Congo, also that JFK Airport is still called Idlewild Airport, demands that his mail be delivered by autogyro, considers donuts as "ethnic food", and he answers the "telephone machine" with "ahoy ahoy?" (in the manner of Alexander Graham Bell before "hello" became commonplace). He still uses the word "gay" in its meaning of "jolly". He also refers to the television as a jumping box and a picto-tube. When asked about his hobbies on a Ferris wheel during a date, Burns spies the crowd for youthful-looking answers. He says his hobbies include (from seeing kids riding bumper cars) "piloting motorcoaches" (he owns a 1936 maroon Stutz Bearcat, which he drives with an old-style driving mask) and (from seeing a man pick up after his dog) "collecting dog waste." On the same date Burns offered to play the clavichord and to also show some "stereopticon images" of the Crimean War. Burns also has trouble understanding modern slang, such as "in-to". Once he also demanded a dodo-egg for lunch.
Faced by the belated news of the 1929 Wall Street Crash on his tickertape machine, Burns moves his shareholdings into Opera Hats, Amalgamated Spats and Confederated Slave Holdings.
Real life models
The character of C. M. Burns was originally modeled after Fox Broadcasting Company executive Barry Diller, with notable similarities to Howard Hughes (for example, wearing Kleenex boxes on his feet), William Randolph Hearst (indirectly through Citizen Kane), Scrooge McDuck, and others. He bears a striking physical resemblance to Fred Olsen, (see comparison at http://www.skundberg.no/oystein/ymist/tvillinger/ ) a Norwegian shipping magnate and owner of the Timex watch brand.
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