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.