White actor Harry Shearer is stepping back from voicing the Black Dr. Hibbert on “The Simpsons” after more than 30 years.
While some fans are mourning his departure — the latest white actor to think better of playing non-white parts — others are shocked and surprised that Springfield’s favorite medical professional was as white as his lab coat.
Shearer will be replaced by Kevin Michael Richardson, The Wrap reported Monday.
The son of Jewish immigrants, Shearer has been the voice for Dr. Hibbert since the 1990s and also voices other characters in the hit show including Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner.
Fox told the New York Post that Shearer will continue to voice the other characters.
Dr. Hibbert is only one of several characters of color on “The Simpsons” to have been voiced for decades by white actors, a list that includes his wife, Bernice, Homer’s nuclear plant colleague Carlton Carlson, and Apu, the Indian-American convenience store owner.
Hank Azaria’s heavily accented caricature of the grocer came under sharp scrutiny after comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary “The Problem with Apu” fingered the performance as offensive. Azaria finally quit the role last year, saying that continuing to play him “just didn’t feel right.”
Dr. Hibbert is now being played by Kevin Michael Richardson, while Carlson has been recast with another Black actor, Alex Desert.