Shelley Morrison, who passed away Sunday at the age of 83, was best known for playing Karen Walker’s (Megan Mullally) opinionated maid Rosario Salazar during the original run of the Emmy-winning NBC comedy.
Morrison made her debut as Rosario in the season one finale. She quickly became a fan favorite and was promoted to a series regular at the start of Season 3, the only actor ever to join the original series regular quartet of Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Mullally and Sean Hayes. Morrison briefly reprised her role on the 2016 election-themed Will & Grace reunion video, which led to the series’ revival on NBC.
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While the creators wanted Morrison to be in the new seasons, she had retired from acting. “It was with a heavy heart that she gave us that information and that we received it,” Will & Grace co-creator Max Mutchnick said in August 2017.
The series wrote off Rosario in a moving episode from the first season of the revival, “Rosario’s Quinceañera,” which earned Mullally an Emmy nomination for supporting actress in a comedy series. In it, Karen, Will (McCormack), Grace (Messing) and Jack (Hayes) learn that Rosario has died and eulogize her at a memorial service.
Following the news of Morrison’s death, her Will & Grace co-stars took to social media to remember her.
“My heart is heavy,” Mullally wrote. “Thank you for your friendship & partnership, Shell. You accomplished wonderful things in this world. You will be missed.”
“Our beloved Shelley Morrison passed away today,” Hayes wrote. “She was absolutely hilarious and had the biggest heart. She was a part of our Will and Grace family and will be greatly missed.”
“Shelley was a beautiful soul & a wonderful actor,” McCormack wrote. “Her work as Rosario, season after season, was as nuanced and real as it was hysterical.”
“Oh, Shelley… what a loss,” Messing wrote next to a video from Will & Grace featuring Morrison. “Shelley had a career that spanned decades, but she will always be our dear Rosie.”
Shelley was a beautiful soul & a wonderful actor. Her work as Rosario, season after season, was as nuanced and real as it was hysterical. She will be missed by everyone at #WillandGrace, she’s a huge part of it. Sending so much love to Walter and Shelley’s whole family. #Rosario https://t.co/C1vkDTU6Qk
— Eric McCormack (@EricMcCormack) December 2, 2019
just got a bulletin on my phone that shelley morrison has passed. my heart is heavy. putting shelley, her beloved husband walter & their children in the light. thank you for your friendship & partnership, shell. you accomplished wonderful things in this world. you will be missed. pic.twitter.com/WeLGrWlRye
— Megan Mullally (@MeganMullally) December 2, 2019