Cartwright, who these days also provides dozens of voices for shows such as “Rugrats” and “Animaniacs,” grew up in Ohio, which happened to be the home state of voice acting star Daws Butler. The man behind a slew of classic cartoon characters, from Huckleberry Hound to Yogi Bear and Quick-Draw Mcgraw, Butler was somewhat of a hero to Cartwright, who, in 1977 at the age of 20, was working at a radio station in Dayton, Ohio. As she explained in a short clip, it was there that she came across Butler’s contact information and reached out, only to find that the famed voice actor was more than willing to be her mentor.
For a year, the pair exchanged cassette tapes, with Butler sending his new protégé scripts and providing feedback on her performances until eventually, she made the move to L.A. where her mentor was living. The actress recalls her early years in the city on her website:
“On Sundays, I would catch the number 86 bus into Beverly Hills to work with Daws. He and I were to do a one-hour lesson, working with his own material — reading, changing, adjusting, working with the microphone, editing — just having a great time.”
That meeting would stretch far beyond an hour and would be the start of an ongoing practice that continued for some time before Butler began bringing Cartwright to recording sessions at Hanna-Barbera. Over time, Cartwright would start auditioning and eventually landed her first role as Gloria in the animated series “Richie Rich.” It would be some time before she went in to read for Bart, but thanks to Butler, who passed in 1988, the year before “The Simpsons” debuted, she was well prepared when she did finally meet with Groening and co.