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Actress Marcia Wallace died Friday night at just 70 years old — and while her esteemed resume includes a long-running gig on The Bob Newhart Show and numerous other television projects, her biggest contribution was her 23-year stint voicing Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons.
“Marcia would come in, and she was always a ray of light,” Simpsons star Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, tells The Hollywood Reporter of her late co-star. “She’s in 178 episodes — a lot more than people might think. That’s more episodes than most standard shows. Marcia was always a very big part of the group. Always a treat. The room was always a little bit better with her in it.”
The Simpsons, which airs its 533rd episode on Nov. 3, leaned on Wallace more than most of its sprawling supporting players. Her character was highlighted multiple times in the show’s long tenure on Fox, but perhaps her most impactful contribution was the 1992 episode in which the forlorn Mrs. Krabappel takes out a personals ad and is duped by Bart.
“That episode shows that deep down inside there was caring there in her voice,” says Cartwright. “That’s the brilliance of the writing of the show…. Of all the kids in the school, it was Mrs. Krabappel and Bart that had this loving relationship. I think Bart gave her a little more joy than grading papers. He provided her with a real relationship.”
The episode, “Bart the Lover,” also earned Wallace the only Emmy of her career. She took home the outstanding voice-over performance trophy later that year.
A clear plan for how the series will handle the loss of Wallace and Mrs. Krabappel is not yet clear, but executive producer Al Jean, who says she will be retired, was also quick to confirm that the character was not the one producers recently teased they would be writing off.
“She had recorded some upcoming episodes, I don’t know how they will use it,” added Cartwright. “I don’t know what they’re going to do with the character. I’m curious to see what they do.”
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