As hit television show ‘The Simpsons' celebrates the airing of its 350th episode this weekend fears are growing for health of the prized sucker behind Maggie.
Mary-Rose Murphy (42), an Irish actress who has spent the past 16 years imitating a baby munching on a pacifier, has been admitted to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles suffering from a rare facial tick.
It is believed the constant sucking motion involved in the portrayal of Maggie brought on the condition, which has rendered the bottom half of her face a quivering mess and robbed her of the power of speech.
However, Professor Paul Splatese, a leading light in the study of human behaviour at the Institute of Idiosyncrasies in Florence, believes it's far more serious. He claims Mary-Rose has begun a bizarre behavioural regression sparked by the lengthy repetition of basic human expressions.
He said: "It is clear that this woman is, in effect, a 42-year-old baby. If conditioned to believe something long enough the body adapts accordingly and, in this case, has reverted to infancy. It's what is known as the "monkey see" syndrome - monkey see, monkey do - it will take her a long time to get back to normal. However, for only $999 a month our experts will guarantee she is well past the nappies and Barney the Dinosaur stage within two months."
Mary-Rose's lawyer Maya Handel said the actress is slowly recovering with the help of a speech therapist and a strict regime of facial exercises. However, it is as yet unclear who will fill in for Mary-Rose until she recovers.
Ms Handel said: "A few big names have been thrown into the ring as replacements for Mary-Rose, though no suitable candidate has yet been found. The pout is very important as it adds a certain ‘je ne sais pas' to the role. It is not a suitable for those with no pout as they don't get the same sumptuous ‘smacking' sound that has brought Maggie to life over the years."
She said her client has fought her condition with great dignity and has been touched by support she has received from Simpsons fans across the globe.
Communicating via a tiny chalkboard from her hospital bed, Mary-Rose told Spoof she bore no ill will against the role that has changed her life forever. In fact, she hopes to return to the fold to ensure the world's favourite baby is not mute for long.
A spokesman for The Simpsons said their sympathies lay with Mary-Rose and her family. As a token of their esteem they had a runner send over a bunch of flowers and a comfort blanket to help her on the road to recovery.
Brunette Mary-Rose came to the States in 1985 after a string of failed projects in the UK, including the television sitcom "Betty and the Bandits" and the diabolical stage shows "My Mother Ship has Landed" and "Call My Mum I'm Sick".