Marcia Wallace, perhaps best known for playing Dr. Harley's receptionist Carol Kester on The Bob Newhart Show, died on 25 October 2013 at the age of 70. She was also well known for providing the voice for schoolteacher Edna Krabappel on the animated series The Simpsons.
Marcia Wallace was born on 1 November 1942 in Creston, Iowa. She attended Parson College in Fairfield, Iowa, where she majored in English and theatre. While there she appeared in various productions held by the college, including Brigadoon and The Music Man. After she graduated she moved to New York City to pursue acting. To make a living she did assorted jobs, including typing scripts, working as a substitute teacher, acting in commercials, and acting in summer stock. Eventually she joined four friends to form the improvisational group The Fourth Wall. The Fourth Wall played from January 1968 to September 1968 off Broadway. Eventually she was noticed by Merv Griffin and she became a semi-regular on The Merv Griffin Show, appearing on it over 75 times.
Marcia Wallace went onto appear in episodes of Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, Columbo, Love American Style, and Insight before being cast as Carol on The Bob Newhart Show. She appeared in every single one of the show's 142 episodes. For the remainder of the Seventies she guest starred on The Love Boat, Flying High, and Fantasy Island. In the Eighties she appeared in the film My Mom's a Werewolf (1989). She guest starred on such shows as Magnum P.I., Gimme a Break, Finder of Lost Loves, Murder She Wrote, ALF, Night Court, and Charles in Charge. It was in 1990 that she was cast as Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons. She would play the role for the next 23 years.
In the Nineties she provided guest voices on such animated series as Darkwing Duck, Batman--The Animated Series, and The Addams Family. She guest starred on such shows as A Different World, Full House, George and Leo, and Murphy Brown (on which she reprised her role as Carol Kester). From the Naughts into the Teens she appeared on such shows as Providence and 7th Heaven. She was a regular on That's My Bush and The Young and The Restless. She appeared in the films You Never Know (2001) , Forever for Now (2004), Big Stan (2007) , and Tru Loved (2008). She provided additional voices for the animated film Monsters University.
Marcia Wallace was a gifted comic actress. She had impeccable timing and a gift for creating funny characters. Indeed, it is rare for television actors to play one memorable character in a long running show, let alone two characters in long running shows. What is more, Carol and Mrs. Krabappel could not have been more different. Carol was warm, friendly, and loved jokes, and was constantly on the lookout for a husband. Mrs. Krabappel was bitter, jaded, and known to abuse various chemical substances. No two characters could be more different and yet both were exceptionally funny. A lesser comic actress may not have able to play such different roles over the years, but Marcia Wallace was. She was an exceptional talent.