Marcia Wallace became a fixture in American homes as Carol Kester, the self-deprecating receptionist on The Bob Newhart Show. Her dry humor and bright red hair made her instantly recognizable. In addition to the Newhart vehicle, she was a constant presence on game shows such as The $25,000 Pyramid and Hollywood Squares.
Her longest TV role was as Edna Krabappel, the long suffering teacher of eternal fourth grader Bart on The Simpsons. The character would deliver a surprisingly accurate assessment of a situation, punctuated by a “Ha!” While showing the class a sex education video, she felt compelled to tell them the girl was faking it. Wallace won an Emmy for the episode Bart the Lover in which she gave him a month of detention. He retaliated by responding to the singles ad she had placed in the local paper. Executive producer Al Jean said the sitcom will retire her character.
She also won an Emmy for an appearance on Murphy Brown as a secretary, during which Newhart showed up in his old character and begged her to come back to work.
Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985, she advocated for awareness and won the Gilda Radner Courage Award in 2007. Wallace chronicled her struggles and her life in show business in the autobiography Don’t Look Back, We’re Not Going That Way.