Actress Marcia Wallace from “The Simpsons,” “Bob Newhart Show,” dead at 70
By GANNETT NEWS SERVICE October 26, 2013 5:20PM
Updated: November 28, 2013 6:55AM
Marcia Wallace, who gained fame as a wise-cracking receptionist on “The Bob Newhart Show” and later was the voice of fourth-grade teacher Edna Krabappel on “The Simpsons,” has died. She was 70 and had battled breast cancer.
“Simpsons” executive producer Al Jean called her “brilliant and gracious.”
“We intend to retire her irreplaceable character,” Jean said.
The actress’ popularity spanned generations. She appeared on “The Merv Griffin Show” over 75 times and earned fame playing Carol Kester, the clever, sarcastic secretary on “The Bob Newhart Show.” She later nabbed an Emmy nomination for a turn on “Murphy Brown” as ‘Secretary 66’ in 1994.
Wallace won an Emmy for voicing Bart Simpson’s dry teacher on the Fox animated series. The 1992 Simpsons episode for which she won found Ms. Krabappel giving Bart a month of detention. He exacted revenge by responding to her newspaper singles ad. Wallace would go on to star in 177 episodes of “The Simpsons, “her character’s iconic “Ha!” a familiar echo.
Wallace’s friend Cathryn Michon, who co-wrote and directed Wallace’s last film, the upcoming “Muffin Top,” told Deadline the actress died at 9 p.m. Friday “due to complications from breast cancer, of which she was a long and proud survivor and advocate for women and healing.”
Wallace was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985.
Just before a “Bob Newhart Show” reunion in 2007, co-star Suzanne Pleshette told USA Today she and Wallace had bonded over both surviving cancer.
“We’ve been able to be completely open with each other, which I don’t even do with my other girlfriends,” said Pleshette.
In 2004, Wallace published an autobiography, “Don’t Look Back, We’re Not Going That Way.” The comedian aired out the book’s contents in the subtitle, which read “How I Overcame a Rocky Childhood, a Nervous Breakdown, Breast Cancer, Widowhood, Fat, Fire & Menopausal Motherhood and Still Managed to Count My Lucky Chickens.”
The actress was also a common fixture on game shows, including “Hollywood Squares,” “The $25,000 Pyramid,” “To Tell the Truth” and “Match Game.”
Wallace’s husband of six years, hotelier Dennis Hawley died in 1992. Their son, Michael Hawley, appeared with her in “Muffin Top.”
On “The Simpsons,” Wallace provided the voice for the world-weary teacher Edna Krabappel (cru-BOP’-pul), who smoked cigarettes, made sarcastic comments and finally found love in the arms of Simpson’s neighbor Ned Flanders after fans voted online at the end of season 22 to keep the unlikely couple together.
Wallace’s trademark “Ha!” punctuated Krabappel’s frequent wisecracks, and her character was also known for the catchphrase, “Do what I mean, not what I say.”
Harry Shearer, the voice of Ned Flanders on the show, said Wallace “brought this huge, positive energy” to her work on “The Simpsons.”
“She was just a warm and wonderful person,” Shearer said.
After news came of Wallace’s death, a video of Mrs. Krabappel’s memorable “Ha!” moments began to circulate on Twitter.