Valerie Harper was born August 22, 1939, died on August 30, 2019. She was an American actress. Happer began her career as a dancer on Broadway, making her debut in the musical Take Me Along in 1959. Valerie Harper best remembered for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show which ran from 1970 to 1977 and its spinoff Rhoda (1974 to 1978.
For her work on Mary Tyler Moore, she thrice received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, and later received the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on Rhoda.
From 1986 to 1987, Harper appeared as Valerie Hogan on the sitcom Valerie. Her film appearances include roles in Freebie and the Bean (1974) and Chapter Two (1979), both of which garnered her Golden Globe Award nominations. Harper returned to stage work in her later career, appearing in several Broadway productions. In 2010, she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as Tallulah Bankhead in the play Looped.
Her daughter confirmed her death to the news media. She was 80.
The cause of death was not immediately available. However, Harper’s husband, Tony Cacciotti, posted on Facebook back in July that he had been told to put her in hospice care but decided against it. “We will continue going forward as long as the powers above allow us. I will do my very best in making Val as comfortable as possible,” Cacciotti wrote.
When first diagnosed, Harper learned she only had a few months to live with that rare form of brain cancer in 2013.
“I know a lot of you feel like you know me that you are part of the Morgenstern family. I feel I know you too and so I owe you the truth at the same time as everybody else,” Harper told “People” in 2013.
Valerie Harper Career Span Years
Originally trained as a dancer, Harper was part of the famed Second City company in Chicago before being spotted by the casting director and CBS vice president Ethel Winant. She was then asked to audition for a role on Mary Tyler Moore’s new show, originally from the Bronx, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Harper described the audition as the “easiest, most pleasant audition process I ever went through.”
Harper’s portrayal of Rhoda and the runaway success of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” led to Harper given her spinoff series. That series was called “Rhoda” by Moore’s independent production company. The show was a smashing success at first, becoming the first series to debut at Number 1. Her character’s wedding to longtime love Joe was at the time the second-highest-rated television episode and Harper won an Emmy in 1975. It was one of four Emmys she won for playing Rhoda.
But the show took a different direction in later seasons and ratings dropped, leading to early cancellation.
Harper’s character, the tough-talking Jewish woman from the Bronx, Rhoda Morgenstern, was not necessarily destined to be friends with Moore’s sweet, Midwestern Mary Richards. But not only did the characters become one of the essential female friendships in television history, but the actresses also became close friends.
In 2013 when diagnosed with brain cancer, Moore said she was “absolutely devastated.” The pair reunited for a TV movie in 2000 called “Mary and Rhoda.” Moore died in 2017.
Valerie Harper returned to television in 1986 in the series “Valerie,” playing a suburban mother with three sons. After the first season, Harper and her husband fought for salary increases and eventually refused to come to work.