Marcia Joan Wallace (born November 1, 1942; Creston, Iowa, died October 25, 2013; Los Angeles, California) was an American character actress, comedienne and game show panelist, primarily known for her roles in television situation comedies. A Delta Zeta alumna, she is perhaps best known for her roles as receptionist Carol Kester on the 1970s sitcom, The Bob Newhart Show, and as the voice of Edna Krabappel on the animated series The Simpsons, for which she won an Emmy for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 1992. Edna Krabappel retired after her death.
Wallace moved from Iowa to New York the day that she graduated from college. After performing in summer stock and teaching English as a substitute teacher in the Bronx, she began her performing career in 1968, appearing for a year off-Broadway with the improvisational group, The Fourth Wall. Afterwards, she made several other appearances in improvisational shows,, and, after losing 100 pounds from her previous weight of 230, appeared in a nude production of Dark of the Moon at the avant-garde Mercer Arts Center. She also did commercials and studied with renowned acting teacher Uta Hagen.
Wallace was a semi-regular on The Merv Griffin Show, appearing over 50 times, and moved to Hollywood at Griffin's request. One of these appearances in March 1972 led to a supporting role on The Bob Newhart Show as Carol Kester (later Carol Kester Bondurant), receptionist to Bob Newhart.
When that series ended its six-season run in 1978, Wallace began three decades of television appearances as a game show panelist, on shows such as Hollywood Squares, Password Plus and its 1980s spin-off Super Password, Whew!, the 1980s version of Crosswits, Hot Potato, Body Language, The $25,000 Pyramid, Double Talk, Win, Lose or Draw, To Tell the Truth and Match Game. She was also on special celebrity episodes of the Ray Combs version of Family Feud and the Jim Perry version of Card Sharks. In April 2008, Wallace appeared on the interactive show GSN Live.
In addition to her game show appearances, Wallace was seen on television as a school principal in two episodes of Alf, played "Mrs. Caruthers" in a few episodes of Full House. and appeared in episode #227 of Bewitched ("Laugh, Clown, Laugh") as Darrin's secretary, in 1971. She and Bob Newhart both reprised their signature roles from The Bob Newhart Show in episode #147 of Murphy Brown ("Anything But Cured"). She also appeared on The Brady Bunch twice, once as Marsha's teacher and once as the woman who sold Jan a Mod New Wig in "Will The Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up". During this time, Wallace also had guest appearances on Murder, She Wrote, Magnum, P.I., Taxi and A Different World, Later, Wallace played the maid on the satirical series That's My Bush!, and, in 2009, appeared on the daytime soap The Young and the Restless where she played an inefficient assistant kidnapper, Annie Wilkes. She had a recurring role on The Simpsons as Edna Krabappel, which earned her an Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 1992. The character is currently retired after her death in 2013.
On film, Wallace appeared in such features as My Mother the Werewolf, Teen Witch and Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go To College. She also played a high school drama teacher who sponsors a Gay Straight Alliance in the 2008 film Tru Loved.
Wallace's work onstage includes An Almost Perfect Person in Los Angeles, which she also produced, a tour of the female version of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, and productions of Same Time Next Year, Twigs, It Had To Be You, Supporting Cast, Prisoner of Second Avenue, Plaza Suite, Gypsy, Promises, Promises, Born Yesterday, You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, Steel Magnolias and The Last of the Red Hot Lovers – in which she played all three roles at various times. She also performed in The Vagina Monologues in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and San Diego.
Wallace was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985, after which she became an activist and lecturer on the subject. On January 27, 2007, Wallace won the Gilda Radner Courage Award from Roswell Park Cancer Institute for helping educate Americans about the importance of early cancer detection and inspiring others through her 20 years as a breast cancer survivor.
In addition, Wallace was a member of Delta Zeta Sorority and was named the Delta Zeta 2010 Woman of the Year at the 2010 Biennial National Convention in Tucson, AZ.
Her autobiography, Don't Look Back, We're Not Going That Way, which was published in 2004, recounts the early detection of her breast cancer, the loss of her husband Dennis to pancreatic cancer, her nervous breakdown, her single motherhood and other experiences.
Illness and death
Wallace died from pneumonia and sepsis on October 25, 2013. Breast cancer was also listed as a significant condition on her death certificate.Wallace was cremated following a private funeral service. Staff on The Simpsons had reportedly been aware of her ill health. Showrunner Al Jean said, "I was tremendously saddened to learn this morning of the passing of the brilliant and gracious Marcia Wallace." Yeardley Smith, who voices Lisa Simpson, tweeted, "Heaven is now a much funnier place b/c of you, Marcia." Former co-star Bob Newhart commented on his Facebook fan page, "Marcia's death came as quite a shock, she left us too early. She was a talented actress and dear friend[.]" Al Jean said that producers planned to retire her "irreplaceable" character Edna Krabappel. The Simpsons episode "Four Regrettings and a Funeral" was shown on November 3, 2013, and dedicated to her. Wallace had recorded lines for several upcoming episodes, and her final episode, "The Man Who Grew Too Much," aired on March 9, 2014. In February 2021, it was announced that the character of Edna Krabappel on 'The Simpsons' will make a final appearance using archive recordings previously voiced by Wallace. The character will be making a reprise in the show's 696th episode, entitled "Diary Queen." In an interview with Variety regarding the announcement, Al Jean remarked: "we never got the chance to give sort of a proper goodbye to her in the show, and this is a small attempt to do that." She was cremated and her ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean. In 2015, Lego released minifigures based on The Simpsons characters; a minifigure of her character was later included in tribute.
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- Marcia Wallace at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
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