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Marcia Wallace, the voice of The Simpsons‘ Edna Krabappel who earlier played the quick-witted receptionist on The Bob Newhart Show, has died. She was 70.
“I was tremendously saddened to learn this morning of the passing of the brilliant and gracious Marcia Wallace. She was beloved by all at The Simpsons and we intend to retire her irreplaceable character,” said Simpsons executive producer Al Jean in a statement.
Jean addressed a storyline that was previously teased about killing off a character on the show and noted that this was not associated with Wallace.
“Earlier we had discussed a potential storyline in which a character passed away. This was not Marcia’s Edna Krabappel. Marcia’s passing is unrelated and again, a terrible loss for all who had the pleasure of knowing her,” Jean wrote.
“Cheers to the hilarious, kind, fab Marcia Wallace, who has taken her leave of us. Heaven is now a much funnier place b/c of you, Marcia,” Yeardley Smith, who voices Lisa Simpson, wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning.
Wallace died Friday night at her home in Los Angeles of complications from pneumonia, her son Michael told the Los Angeles Times.
won an Emmy Award for her voice work as Ms. Krabappel in the 1992 Simpsons episode “Bart the Lover.” After the elementary school teacher gives Bart a month of detention, he gets his revenge by responding to her newspaper singles ad. That was her 10th of 177 episodes on the series.
On Newhart, which aired on CBS from 1972 to 1978, Wallace played Carol Kester, the wise-cracking, independent receptionist in a Chicago high rise that housed the offices of psychologist Bob Hartley (Newhart) and orthodontist Jerry Robinson (Peter Bonerz). She was in 139 of the show’s 142 episodes.
“The odds of getting on a series long enough to be remembered are infinitesimal,” she told The New York Times in 2010. “A lot of what I’ve done, I would not have done without Carol Kester.”
In a 1994 episode of CBS’ Murphy Brown, Wallace played Candice Bergin‘s secretary. Newhart shows up in character and begs her to come back to work for him in Chicago. Wallace received an Emmy nomination for the guest-starring appearance.
Cathryn Michon, the writer-director of the forthcoming film Muffin Top: A Love Story, which features Wallace, wrote on Twitter on Friday: “Devastated 2nite at passing of #Marciawallace dear friend 1 of the stars of my @MuffinTopMovie. She was my hero, cheered 4 me. Grrl Genius.”
Wallace was born in Creston, Iowa, and attended Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa. The day of her graduation, she left for New York for an acting career with just $150 to her name. Back then, she weighed 220 pounds and described herself as 5-foot-8 — but with hair, 6 feet 2 inches.
She lost 100 pounds, formed an improvisational group and joined the staff of Merv Griffin‘s syndicated talk show. She would make 75 appearances on the show. Producer Grant Tinker, head of MTM Enterprises, spotted her and offered her the role of Carol on Newhart.
Wallace also was a popular game-show participant on Hollywood Squares, The $25,000 Pyramid, To Tell the Truth, Match Game and others. She appeared on such series as Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, Murder, She Wrote and Full House and voiced numerous other characters.
Wallace was diagnosed with cancer in 1985 and became a high-profile advocate for breast cancer awareness, speaking to thousands of women across the country every year. She won the Gilda Radner Courage Award from Roswell Park Cancer Institute in 2007.
She published an autobiography in 2004, Don’t Look Back, We’re Not Going That Way, with the subtitle How I Overcame a Rocky Childhood, a Nervous Breakdown, Breast Cancer, Widowhood, Fat, Fire & Menopausal Motherhood and Still Managed to Count My Lucky Chickens.
She married hotelier Dennis Hawley in 1986; he died in 1992 of pancreatic cancer. In addition to their son Michael, survivors include her sister Sherry and brother Jimmy.
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