The Simpsons co-star Marcia Wallace has died. She was 70, a week shy of her 71st birthday. “She passed at 9 PM last night due to complications from breast cancer of which she was a long and proud survivor and advocate for women and healing,” said Wallace’s close friend Cathryn Michon, who co-wrote and directed the actress’ final movie, the upcoming Muffin Top, in which Wallace co-stars alongside her son, Michael Hawley. “Ironically it was during breast cancer awareness month during which she was always a funny ray of hope for so many. I’m devastated.” UPDATE 2 PM: Hawley just clarified that Wallace passed away of complications from other illnesses and was breast cancer free at the time of her death.
Actress-comedienne Wallace is best known for voicing Bart’s teacher Edna Krabappel on the Fox animated series The Simpsons, for which she won an Emmy, and for playing receptionist Carol Kester on The Bob Newhart Show. “Cheers to the hilarious, kind, fab Marcia Wallace, who has taken her leave from us, Wallace’s Simpsons co-star Yeardley Smith wrote this morning. “Heaven is now a much funnier place because of you.” Wallace also was a frequent game show panelist who appeared on more than a dozen shows, including Hollywood Squares, The $25,000 Pyramid, To Tell the Truth, Match Game and Family Feud. “In the 70s, Marcia Wallace made it cool for women to be funny. She was my hero before she became my friend,” writer Nell Scovell said on Twitter. Wallace’s death is unrelated to the the announcement earlier this month by The Simpsons executive producer Al Jean that a regular character which earned the actor who voiced him/her an Emmy will be killed off next season. UPDATE 9:30 AM: Jean just confirmed that in a statement on behalf of The Simpsons. “I was tremendously saddened to learn this morning of the passing of the brilliant and gracious Marcia Wallace,” he said. “She was beloved by all at The Simpsons and we intend to retire her irreplaceable character. Earlier we had discussed a potential storyline in which a character passed away. This was not Marcia’s Edna Krabappel. Marcia’s passing is unrelated and again, a terrible loss for all who had the pleasure of knowing her.” Here is a reel of Edna Krabappel’s trademark Ha! laugh.