Marcia Wallace, of ‘Simpsons’ and ‘Newhart’ Fame, Dead at 70 (Updated)

Marcia Wallace, of 'Simpsons' and 'Newhart' Fame, Dead at 70 (Updated)

Getty Images

Actress earned Emmy and acclaim for idiosyncratic performances

Marcia Wallace, the star of “The Bob Newhart Show” and “The Simpsons,” died Friday. She was 70.

Wallace's blazing red hair and bubbly delivery were tailor made for the role of the straitlaced Newhart's daffy receptionist on the hit CBS show. In fact, the part was written specifically for her at the behest of CBS founder Bill Paley.

Also read: Hollywood's Notable Deaths of 2013

She would remain with “The Bob Newhart Show” for its six-season run before segueing into guest appearances on shows like “ALF” and “Murphy Brown,” and becoming a regular presence on game shows such as “The 25,000 Pyramid” and “Hollywood Squares.”

She would also build a second career as a voice-over actress, giving life to Edna Krabappel, Bart Simpson's cynical and chain-smoking fourth grade teacher on “The Simpsons.” The role, a sublime parody of disaffected instruction, earned her an Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 1992. The show's executive producer Al Jean said Saturday that the character would  be retired out of deference to Wallace's death.

Also read: Mrs. Krabappel Will Be Retired After Marcia Wallace's Death, ‘Simpsons’ Producer Says

Wallace also was active in the actors’ unions, having been elected over the summer to serve on the first fully elected SAG-AFTRA national board. In 2008 she served a one-year term as First Alternate National Director on the Screen Actors Guild board, and in 2009 was elected to a three-year term on the SAG board and was chair of the national and Hollywood Division elections for multiple SAG elections. She was also on the SAG National Women's Committee and a long-time supporter of the SAG and AFTRA foundations.

“I am deeply saddened that Marcia has passed away and my profound sympathies go out to her beloved family and friends,” SAG-AFTRA National President Ken Howard said in a statement Saturday. “Marcia was so many amazing things: a terrific actor, a brilliant comedian, and a wonderful caring soul … Her wit and charm were legendary and matched only by her leadership on the SAG-AFTRA board and her considerable efforts to merge SAG and AFTRA.”

Wallace's career began with a semi-regular stint on the “Merv Griffin Show,” and also involved successful forays on the New York and Los Angeles state where she appeared in productions of “The Vagina Monologues,” “Gypsy” and “Prisoner of Second Avenue.”

Wallace was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985 and became involved in charitable groups involved with treating the disease.

She is survived by a son. She is predeceased by a husband, Dennis Hawley.

  • telast

    It's straitlaced, Brent. It's segueing or the less elegant segwaying. What it's not is seguewaying. Too bad about Marcia; she was funny.

    • Brent Lang

      Perils of writing on a deadline. Thanks for pointing those mistakes out in such a considerate and polite way telast.

    • telast

      Glad you weren't offended.

  • Dusty Landry

    R.I.P Marcia..you gave us all many laughs..Thanks for all your work :-)

  • Patrice Marie

    Marcia Wallace brought so much joy to me as a teenager — watching her on the Bob Newhart Show! She was a doll! God Bless a beautiful, creative soul! – Patrice Marie

  • A.L. Hern

    “[Wallace] would remain with ‘The Bob Newhart Show’ for its six-season run before seguewaying into guest appearances on shows like ‘ALF’ and ‘Murphy Brown'…”

    A Segway is an upright, two-wheeled vehicle and individual rides, Brent. You mean SEGUEING.

  • Richard Stellar

    Marcia Wallace can take credit for saving the lives of our own. She was a fixture at our protests against the Motion Picture and Television Fund's abandoned decision to close the Motion Picture Home's Long Term Care. She represented SAG along with other actors who had not lost the vision of ‘we take care of our own'. Because of her involvement 70 elderly now enjoy long term care. More will come. The powers that be could not fight against Marcia Wallace's conviction. I met her son while caroling during the holiday at the Motion Picture Home. Peace brother. Your mom was a giant.

  • Guest

    May she Rest In Peace.

  • jrbeers

    I loved Marcia Wallace. I was so saddened to read about this. May she rest in peace

  • Robert Ruiz Jr

    My best memory of Marcia….doing the Bob Newhart theme song w/words with Reverend Jim, on an episode of TAXI. Anyone else who remembers that, we have been around for a minute. Marcia, U will be missed. Still, U continue to bring us joy, in reruns, and in our thoughts. Thank U. Bobby

  • Robert Ruiz Jr

    Any chance of a response from the Rev himself?? Bobby :)