Julie Kavner

Active - 1975 - 2012  |   Born - Sep 7, 1951 in Los Angeles, California, United States  |   Genres - Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

When the decision was made in 1974 to transform Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) from frumpy kvetcher to desirable bachelorette on the TV series Rhoda, somebody had to inherit all those self-deprecating jokes told by Rhoda on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The decision was made to create a new character: Rhoda's pudgy, insecure younger sister, Brenda. The actress chosen for the role sounded as though she'd been a New Yorker since the womb, but in fact Julie Kavner was born and raised in California. A theatre student at USC-San Francisco, Kavner came to Rhoda with no professional experience, but before the series ran its course, she had won an Emmy for her portrayal. With her performance in the 1986 film Hannah and Her Sisters, Kavner became one of the most prominent members of director Woody Allen's stock company, essaying very un-Brendalike roles in Radio Days (1987), the "Oedipus Wrecks" segment of New York Stories (1989), Alice (1990) and Shadows and Fog (1992). Kavner's regular stint as an ensemble player on the Fox TV network's Tracy Ullman Show led to her long-running assignment as the gravelly voice of Marge Simpson on the weekly animated series The Simpsons. Even as she continued to work on The Simpsons for the nex twenty years, she would make occasional big-screen appearances in projects as diverse as I'll Do Anything, Forget Paris, Judy Berlin, and Click.

She also maintained an ongoing working relationship with Woody Allen appearing in Deconstructing Harry and in the 1994 made-for TV adaptation of the famous director's play Don't Drink the Water.

Movie Highlights

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  • Was born and raised in California, but is often mistaken for a New Yorker, thanks to a slight Brooklyn accent (her parents were both transplants) and her unmistakable "rough" voice.
  • Had never acted professionally before landing the supporting role of Rhoda's sister, Brenda Morgenstern, on the Mary Tyler Moore spinoff, Rhoda.
  • Received Emmy nominations for her first two professional acting jobs---one primetime Emmy for Rhoda and one Daytime Emmy for an ABC drama on Afternoon Playbreak.
  • Is a member of the regular stable of actors in Woody Allen's films, first appearing in 1986's Hannah and Her Sisters.
  • Worked with Tracey Ullman on The Tracey Ullman Show and Tracey Takes On...
  • Does not like to do the voice of Marge Simpson---the role for which she is best known these days---in front of the camera.