In a very touching moment, The Simpsons paid tribute to the passing of veteran actress, and the voice of Edna Krabappel, Marcia Wallace during the show’s opening chalkboard sequence. A fitting tribute and one worthy of a character very much beloved by many a Simpsons fan. Wallace passed away last month, at the age of 70, from breast cancer, which she’d been fighting for over two decades. As Bart Simpson’s 4th grade teacher for the last 25 years, Wallace turned a stereotypical hardass and embittered teacher into a sympathetic, warm, flawed, and wickedly funny character, winning an Emmy for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 1992 for the Season 3 episode “Bart the Lover”, which Fox aired last night in her honor. As The Simpsons grew, so did we along with them. And as we grew up, we began to appreciate characters like Edna Krabappel who became a welcome and necessary part of the rich and colorful residents occupying Springfield.
Though Wallace was already a comedic star in her own right with a supporting role as Carol Kester on The Bob Newhart Show, which was specifically written for her, and various appearances on The Merv Griffin Show, Match Game, Hollywood Squares, Password, $25,000 Pyramid, and To Tell the Truth. She also had numerous guest roles on Bewitched, Murphy Brown, Magnum, P.I., Murder, She Wrote, and Taxi, where she played herself.
Apart from her career as an actress, she was also an active supporter of cancer research and an activist for many cancer groups, lecturing on the importance of early detection.
Not unlike Phil Hartman’s Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz, Marcia Wallace’s Edna Krabappel was one of the great characters of The Simpsons. I know I’ll miss her presence, as will an entire generation who knew her only for this one role. But I like to think that she’s up there somewhere giving the universe a good “HA!”
RIP Marcia Wallace and we really will miss you, Mrs. K.