Deft comedienne who, two years out of college, began her professional career playing sardonic, chubby Brenda Morgenstern, younger sister to Valerie Harper's title character on the long-running TV sitcom "Rhoda" (1974-78). With her wry, sarcastic delivery, her ethnic, raspy and slightly nasal whine and her self-deprecating humor, Kavner has carved a niche as a likable second banana, playing scrappy underdogs, working women and supportive wives in such films as "Bad Medicine" (1985), "Surrender" (1987) and "Awakenings" (1990), TV-movies like "No Other Love" (1979) and "Revenge of the Stepford Wives" (1980), and, of course, the animated sitcom, "The Simpsons" (1990- ), as the voice of Marge Simpson. A Woody Allen regular, she has acted in five of his films including "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) and "Shadows and Fog" (1992) and is reputedly the only actress to play both his mother (in "Radio Days" 1987) and his girlfriend (in "New York Stories" 1989).
Kavner got to display her gifts for mimicry and improvisation as a cast regular on "The Tracey Ullman Show" creating such diverse characters as a Soviet circus performer and a bisexual talent agent before she was cast in her first starring role as a funny cosmetics saleswoman and mother turned successful professional comedienne in Nora Ephron's warmhearted domestic comedy "This Is My Life" (1992). Kavner also did well in another prominent role as an extremely, if inadvertently, honest box-office analyst who becomes involved with a film producer (Albert Brooks) in "I'll Do Anything" (1994).