Penny Marshall was the first woman to direct a movie that grossed over $100 million at the box office (with the 1988 Tom Hanks hit, Big), but she also marked another important entertainment milestone: The actress, producer, and film director was the very first guest star on The Simpsons.
The long-running Fox animated series has logged hundreds of guest stars over its 28-year run, but Marshall, who died this week at age 75 from complications of diabetes, kicked off the voice cameo trend when she appeared on the first season of the show playing Ms. Lucille Botz, also known as “The Babysitter Bandit,” in the 1990 episode, “Some Enchanted Evening.” In the memorable episode, Marshall’s savvy character robs the Simpson family when a clueless Homer lets her escape even after Bart and Lisa manage to knock her out.
Penny Marshall was the first guest star to work with the long-running Fox series, despite the fact that her episode aired after Kelsey Grammer’s first appearance as Sideshow Bob, Simpsons showrunner Al Jean told the Hollywood Reporter.
Jean, who admittedly didn’t helm The Simpsons at the time of Marshall’s guest star stint but was involved as a writer and producer, acknowledged her important history with the Fox cartoon and said the actress “will be very much missed.”
Jean also paid tribute to Penny Marshall on Twitter.
— Al Jean (@AlJean) December 18, 2018
“Some Enchanted Evening” was the 13th episode of The Simpsons‘ first season and was co-directed by David Silverman and Kent Butterworth, according to Comicbook.com. Marshall’s character was hired to watch Bart and Lisa when Homer and Marge went out on a date night. But as the episode played out, it was revealed that Ms. Botz was actually a diabolical villain and not a sweet old lady. David Silverman co-directed “Some Enchanted Evening” alongside Kent Butterworth.
After his sister paved the way, Penny Marshall’s brother, Gary Marshall, would go on to appear as Larry Kidkill in “Eight Misbehavin'” and in “Homer the Father” episodes of The Simpsons.
Of course, Penny Marshall’s decades-long career in both TV and film saw her voicing other animated characters. IMDB notes that in 1981, Marshall voiced the animated version of her Laverne Defazio character in the Saturday morning cartoon series Laverne & Shirley in the Army. Marshall also voiced Laverne in 1982’s Mork and Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/The Fonz Hour.
You can see a scene from Penny Marshall’s episode The Simpsons below.
The Simpsons aired its 29th season on Fox this year.