In a touching tribute to the late Marcia Wallace who passed away last weekend, The Simpsons latest episode began with Bart showing teacher, Edna Krabappel, his profound sympathy. For years the show has started with her giving him lines to copy out, and this time, it was his time to write a line to her, simply “We’ll really miss you Mrs K.” His sad little face says it all. Her character will be a great loss to the show. It is probably fair to note that Mrs Krabappel would have reprimanded Bart for missing a comma, and then done her familiar sigh at his ongoing hopelessness. His sincerity is real though, as the dejected expression on his face well demonstrates.
Marcia Wallace died after experiencing complications from a bout of pneumonia, She was 70. Executive Producer of The Simpsons, Al Jean, said that no-one could possibly take over her role, and although he did not spell it out, it is clear that the writing team will now have to come up with a storyline to bring about her character’s demise. Fox, the production company, record episodes of the show far in advance, so this may not happen for some time on air. In the meantime, lonely old Edna Krabappel is still married to Ned Flanders, giving these two a chance at a sunset romance in their lives.
One rumor Al Jean was very quick to deny was that there had been plans afoot to write Edna out anyway. He said this was nonsense. He admitted the rumors were not without substance, as the creative team had been in discussions about killing off a character soon, but it was not Edna Krabappel. “Marcia’s passing is unrelated,” he stresses, “and “a terrible loss for all who had the pleasure of knowing her.”
Fox had planned to air the long ago episode from 1992 Bart the Lover, this Sunday night, as an additional tribute to Ms. Wallace, which featured her character in considerable depth. It was an episode that went on to win The Simpsons an Emmy and received critical acclaim from all quarters. It was a fitting gesture to pay touching tribute to Edna Krabappel. However, they were prevented from doing so by apparent “technical issues” and instead aired The Ned-Liest Catch where Edna begins to date Ned.
Marcia Wallace was an attractive, vivacious redhead, nothing at all like the sour Edna Krabappel her voice immortalized. As Bart’s teacher, she was forever having to chastise him for his mischief making and misdemeanors, but this Sunday, it was his turn to take the chalk and write on the blackboard. The show marked the first in a new series of the hugely successful cartoon.
The show opened with the sweet message to Edna Krabappel and also closed with a photo of her and another lament in the caption “In loving memory of Marcia Wallace.” Mrs K is sitting on the desk as she kicks her shapely legs and gives a short “Ha!”
In addition to her Emmy award winning voiceover work on The Simpsons, a job she had relished since 1990 until her death this month, Marcia Wallace was known for her performances as Carol Kester, the receptionist in The Bob Newhart Show.
It was a bittersweet night for The Simpsons’ fans as they bade farewell to such a loved and long established character as Edna Krabappel, but a very touching tribute to a great and unforgettable character.
By Kate Henderson