The world was shocked to learn this morning that actress Valerie Harper had been diagnosed with a rare form of terminal brain cancer. In a show of true strength of character, the brave actress says that she went public with her news because, “This could draw more attention to cancer research. I think there's an opportunity to help people."
“omg! Insider’s” Thea Andrews conducted one of the most recent interviews with the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” star, in conjunction with the January release of her new memoir, “I, Rhoda.” In the interview, Harper talked about everything from growing up in a strict Catholic household and starting off her career in NYC, to using Twitter and why the whole original gang from “Mary Tyler Moore” just can’t stop working!
And that’s just the beginning of what Harper touched on. She went on to share an amazing story with Andrews about how Harrison Ford ended up building the loft in her house. She talked about her ongoing struggles with her weight. And she explained why adopting a child while in her 40s was the best thing that she and her husband of 30-plus years, Tony Cacciotti, ever did. She also shared high praise in the interview for some of today’s top female comics, including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristin Wiig, and Maya Rudolph (Harper herself came out of Chicago’s “Second City” improv group, the same comedy training grounds Fey and Poehler passed through).
In the interview, Harper explained how she almost didn’t become an actress. “I had wanted to be a dancer,” she said. “But then changed my major at about 18 or 19, and I said, ‘Gee, maybe theater is what I should do rather than this?’ It takes a lot of dedication, and a lot of rejection.”
Harper also discussed how she was excited to be heading back out on the road soon to reprise her role as Hollywood legend Tallulah Bankhead, in the play “Looped,” a role she originated in Pasadena and later took to Broadway (earning her a Tony nomination at age 70!). According to People, Harper learned about her cancer on January 15, and dropped out of the “Looped” tour on January 28.
So, why was it time now for her to write a book about her life? “Well, see, now I'm really older,” she told Andrews. “So, you really have perspective and it's all kind of marvelous. At least for me, it is. Even the bad stuff, you confront it and you deal with it and you move on, and I tried to do that in the book.”
Most poignantly, Harper shared how she’s navigated dark chapters in her life before. “You've definitely had some difficult situations in your life,” Andrews began to ask. “And you dealt with disease and some heart break and were fired from a show of your own name. But what really comes out of the book is your overwhelming optimism in the face of all these things.”
“We do have a choice,” Harper explained. “Even when horrible, horrible things happen and they've happened in the recent past, you do have a choice to when the smoke clears, you're standing. And sometimes it seems unbearable, but there is a way through in life. And if you can just grasp what's good … And if you can get through that pain, that's what I talk about. And at the end of the book I put a lot of things people have said to me over the years that I think is funny, insightful, whatever, just because they helped me through hard times.”
With this latest cancer diagnosis in front of her, it certainly seems that Harper is prepared for the challenges she faces.
An excerpt from “omg! Insider’s” interview, below and tune in to "omg! Insider" on Wednesday evening, to watch more of Andrews' interview with Harper.
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