Hollywood is mourning the loss of Valerie Harper, the four-time Emmy winner who played Rhoda Morgenstern first on The Mary Tyler Moore Show then its 1974 spinoff Rhoda. The actress, who died today at 80, is being remembered for her strength and good humor in the face of illness.
Harper had a total of eight consecutive Emmy nominations for playing Rhoda — four on Mary Tyler Moore from 1971-74 and four for the spin-off from 1975-78, She also won a Golden Globe for Rhoda — the same year was was nominated for Most Promising Newcomer – Female for the film Freebie and the Bean.
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Harper also starred for two seasons in the NBC sitcom Valerie, which continued to run as The Hogan Family after she left in 1987.
Writer/director Mike O’Malley remembered Harper fondly.
“Valerie Harper was a wonderful actor,” O’Malley said. “She was, as so many comic actors are, so much more than just funny. She played the role of Kathryn, a widow determined to share her faith in her beliefs, in my 2011 film set at a Catholic Pre-Cana retreat, Certainty. Thoughtful, generous on set and off, focused and kind—Valerie brought a warmth to the role of a woman who was trying to help her adult children see the value of her faith—despite its flaws. Like most indie films—She was paid nothing, didn’t have any star perks—and didn’t ask for or require any. She was just all for the art. And she crushed it.”
“Valerie Harper was a wonderful actor who made us laugh and cry and laugh again,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “She cared very much about the membership and we appreciate her service to the union. Our deepest sympathies go out to her family and friends. May she rest in peace.”
Here are some of the other tributes, memories and recollections posted online:
#ValerieHarper was a #Broadway veteran, a 2010 #TonyAwards nominee, a @CBS star, and a beloved member of the theatre community. Rest in peace. #RIPValerieHarperhttps://t.co/LHsDeSRgws pic.twitter.com/bUCEr61QVE
— The Tony Awards (@TheTonyAwards) August 30, 2019
Valerie Harper was always the most gracious and the kindest actor on set.
She will be missed. Rest In Peace.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) August 30, 2019
Thank you brilliant Valerie- you gave us so much!!💔 RIP Valerie Harper pic.twitter.com/URF0SuzCux
— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) August 30, 2019
Condolences to the family of Valerie Harper. Going to miss you Rhoda Morgenstern! 😢❌⭕️
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) August 30, 2019
Even when she was down she danced and showed the world that she refused to let cancer beat her. Now Rhoda is with Mary in heaven. RIP Valerie Harper. You were the epitome of strength and humor. 😢🤟🏻 pic.twitter.com/CEGWl4hfhA
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) August 30, 2019
Sad to hear about the passing of #ValerieHarper. She was incredibly courageous facing cancer with her humor and grace. Thinking of her devoted family, friends, and many fans. Like Mary Tyler Moore she could turn the world on with her smile. 🙏🏾❤️ pic.twitter.com/iEHnWl2BTO
— Robin Roberts (@RobinRoberts) August 30, 2019
— Jennifer Tilly (@JenniferTilly) August 30, 2019
Rhoda was a terrific show and Valerie Harper such a superb lead – real, honest and hugely funny. https://t.co/9X22heZysP
— Simon Blackwell (@simonblackwell) August 30, 2019