Seth Woodbury MacFarlane was born October 26, 1973 in the small, New England town of Kent, Connecticut. His parents are Ron and Perry, and his younger sister is Rachael. He began drawing cartoons at age 2, and his comic strip “Walter Crouton” was published in his local newspaper by the time he was 8. He attended high school at Kent School in Connecticut, and then went on to study animation at the Rhode Island School of Design.
After graduating from RISD, MacFarlane got a job working for Hanna-Barbera Productions (now Cartoon Network Studios) when a professor sent his thesis film, “Life of Larry” (a precursor to “Family Guy”) to Hanna-Barbera. He was a writer and/or storyboard artist for the shows “Johnny Bravo”, “Cow and Chicken”, and “Dexter’s Lab”. MacFarlane also did some work for Walt Disney Animation as a writer on the TV series “Jungle Cubs”.
In 1996 MacFarlane created “Larry and Steve”, the follow-up to his thesis film. It caught the attention of the executives at Fox, who originally offered him a deal to create featurettes to run between sketches on “Mad TV”. The deal fell apart, but Fox, not wanting to lose MacFarlane, gave him $50,000 to produce a partial pilot for a comedy series. He hand-drew the 15-minute presentation of “Family Guy” over the course of six months.
Fox Network picked up “Family Guy”, and it premiered after the Super Bowl on January 31, 1999. “Family Guy” was moved, cancelled and picked up on numerous occasions, but in 2002, Fox Network cancelled the show for good at the end of its third season. However, the exceptional sales of the “Family Guy” DVDs — combined with the high ratings of the show’s reruns on Cartoon Network — soon convinced Fox to put it back into production for a fourth season in 2004.
During the interim, MacFarlane and two writers from “Family Guy” — Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman — pitched a new show to Fox called “American Dad”. It went into production in 2003, and premiered on February 6, 2005.
“Family Guy” recently wrapped its fifth season, and “American Dad” its second. Both shows are in production for the next season, and air on Fox Network on Sunday nights. “Family Guy” is also airing on TBS and Cartoon Network, and on the BBC in the UK.
MacFarlane’s one live-action venture, “The Winner”, produced and written by former “Family Guy” writer Ricky Blitt and starting Rob Corddry, was cancelled due to poor ratings. Fox did, however, allow all six of the filmed episodes to be aired.
MacFarlane has appeared on live-action television shows such as “Gilmore Girls”, “Star Trek: Enterprise”, “The War at Home” and “Mad-TV”, and lent his voice to other animated shows like “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” and “Robot Chicken”.
MacFarlane has won two Emmys: one for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance and one for Outstanding Music and Lyrics (shared with “Family Guy” composer Walter Murphy). He also won an Annie for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production.
MacFarlane has received two honorary degrees, the first from Harvard in 2006 after delivering the Class Day Speech as several of the characters from “Family Guy”, and also from his alma mater, the Rhode Island School of Design, in June 2007.