It's a sad day in Hollywood, as veteran actress Valerie Harper has died after a decade-long battle with cancer. The sitcom actress is perhaps best known for portraying the classic TV character Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off Rhoda, later leading her very own sitcom series simply called Valerie. On Friday, Harper's family confirmed her passing, although the exact cause of death wasn't disclosed. The award-winning actress was 80 years old.
Valerie Harper was first diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009. She was later diagnosed in 2013 with a rare condition known as leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, where the cancer cells spread into the membrane surrounding her brain. Doctors gave Harper an estimated three months to live, but the actress chose to aggressively fight the disease with chemotherapy. What was thought to be three months would ultimately turn into six more years for the movie and TV legend, but by the summer of 2019, Harper's condition had reportedly worsened to the point where she needed 24/7 care.
Before appearing on television, Harper began her career as a performer as a dancer and chorus girl on Broadway. After later appearing in bit parts in movies and TV shows, Harper was scouted by a casting agent who urged her to audition for the part of Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Clearly perfect for the part, Harper was cast and excelled in the role, Rhoda for the span of eight years for The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off series Rhoda. She was later given the opportunity to reprise the role once again in the year 2000 for the TV movie Mary and Rhoda, which reunited her with Mary Tyler Moore. While Harper has played dozens of roles throughout her career, the most popular one is certainly that of Rhoda Morgenstern.
As an actress, Harper has also won multiple Primetime Emmy Awards. For her work as Rhoda on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Harper had won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series three times. She later won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in the same role for Rhoda. Additionally, Harper was given Golden Globe Award nominations for her work in the movies Freebie and the Bean and Chapter Two. More recently, Harper received a Tony Award nomination in 2010 for Best Actress in a Play, based on her performance as Talullah Bankhead in the play Looped.
Harper had been continuing to work in television as recently as 2016, appearing in shows like Childrens Hospital, The Simpsons, 2 Broke Girls, and Melissa & Joey. She also appeared in a variety of movies and TV movies like Shiver and My Future Boyfriend. Always excellent in every performance, Harper's presence will always be missed. Clearly a fighter, Harper had proven wrong her initial grim diagnosis, and now she is no longer in pain. Our thoughts our with the friends and family of the legendary actress at this time, and may she rest in peace. This news comes to us from ABC7.