Marcia Wallace, who became famous to many as the sassy, redheaded receptionist on "The Bob Newhart Show" and also voiced Bart's crabby teacher on "The Simpsons," died Friday in Los Angeles. She was 70.
A representative from Wallace's agency confirmed the actress' death in an email to NBC News.
"Cheers to the hilarious, kind, fab Marcia Wallace, who has taken her leave of us," said "Simpsons" actress Yeardley Smith on Twitter. "Heaven is now a much funnier place b/c of you, Marcia. Xx"
Marcia Wallace, seen here in 1972, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985 and worked to educate others about cancer prevention.
Wallace's world-weary voice was the perfect delivery vehicle for Bart Simpson's chain-smoking, always-exasperated teacher, Edna Krabappel. In 1992, Wallace won an Emmy for outstanding voice-over performance. Her derisive "HA!" laugh became a character trademark, and is even collected in a YouTube video montage.
But long before "The Simpsons," a generation of TV watchers knew her as Bob Newhart's joke-loving receptionist, Carol Kester, who minded the central desk at Dr. Bob Hartley's shared office suite on "The Bob Newhart Show." The character became so well-known that in 1994, Wallace reprised the role of Kester on "Murphy Brown." She was nominated for an Emmy for that guest appearance.
Wallace was also a game-show regular, making more than a dozen appearances on shows including "Hollywood Squares," "Match Game," "The $25,000 Pyramid" and "To Tell the Truth," among others.
She had numerous TV appearances, and is remembered by "Brady Bunch" fans as the saleswoman who sold middle sister Jan a black wig in an infamous episode about accepting who you are. Other shows on her resume include "Charles in Charge," "ALF," "A Different World," "Magnum, P.I." and "The Young & The Restless."
Wallace appeared in movies as well, including the 1989 comedy "Teen Witch," and had filmed a part in the 2014 film "Muffin Top: A Love Story." Cathryn Michon, director of "Muffin Top," wrote on Twitter that she was "devastated" by Wallace's death.
Wallace was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985 and became an activist for early cancer detection. In 2007, she won the Gilda Radner Courage Award from New York's Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
In 2004, Wallace published her autobiography, "Don't Look Back, We're Not Going That Way!" In it she discussed her life and career, including the 1992 death of her husband, Dennis Hawley, from pancreatic cancer. The couple had one son, Michael.
First published October 26 2013, 10:49 AM