Valerie Harper, the actress best known as the wise-cracking Rhoda on the 70’s series “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” has died, as confirmed by her family. After a long battle with cancer, the star passed away today at the age of 80.
Having been a Suffern, NY native, Harper began her life in show business as a Radio City Music Hall dancer. She soon transitioned to take on both the theater as well as improv comedy. But it wasn’t long before her star began to rise when she landed the role of the ever likable character of Rhoda Morgenstern on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” The role garnered her a coveted Golden Globe and a total of four Emmys.
American TV viewers liked her character Rhoda so much that Harper soon had her own spinoff, titled after her character, “Rhoda.” The series ran for four years, from 1974 to 1978. After the series ended, Harper was a regular favorite, appearing for thirty years on both television shows and in a dozen films.
In 2009, Harper announced that she had beat lung cancer. However, in 2013 she was once again diagnosed, this time with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis—a form of brain cancer. This time around, Harper was told the disease was incurable and that she had a few short months to live. However, thanks to her medical care, Harper survived for six more years.
Harpers’s husband revealed that her doctors highly recommended, in July, that she enter into hospice care, but he refused to allow it at the time. In the end, Harper’s medical expenses became so massive, that the family turned to crowdfunding so that they could pay for her treatments and her needed care.
Harper’s survived by her husband of 42 years, Tony Cacciotti, as well as her daughter Cristina.
Those of us that grew up in front of the TV in the ’70 will miss Valerie Harper. She truly was a pioneer for sitcoms lead by women and a bright shining star in show business.