'Mary Tyler Moore Show' actress Valerie Harper dead at 80

'Mary Tyler Moore Show' actress Valerie Harper dead at 80

She ultimately earned an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role.

In January 2013, Harper was diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition that occurs when cancer cells spread into the fluid-filled membrane surrounding the brain. But she was forever known as Rhoda - a reflection of the preservative power of reruns, and the enduring appeal of her signature character.

She had captured the character by studying her Italian stepmother. "'Who was this brash, terrible NY broad?'"

"She did so much for so many people and once they heard what was happening, they all started coming forward", Cacciotti told PEOPLE about the support he and Harper had received.


After she was given a terminal diagnosis in 2013, Harper was cast in the 17th season of Dancing With the Stars and partnered with Tristan MacManus. (Pay attention to her paying attention: She is never out of a scene.) With her first husband, Richard Schaal, she was a member of Paul Sills' influential Story Theater. By the show's fourth season, however, Rhoda and Joe had divorced and she was back in the dating pool. Harper was nominated four other times.

She danced from an early age and, as a teenager, got a part at New York's Radio City Music Hall corps de ballet twirling about behind the Rockettes.

A 1974 episode of "Rhoda" in which her character got married was watched by more than 50 million Americans, which The New York Times described as a cultural phenomenon in which "we got together as a nation, in anticipation and retrospection, to watch a marriage". Thinking of her devoted family, friends, and many fans. However, she survived for almost/over six years thanks to her medical care.

Ms Harper began her career as a dancer on Broadway, before moving on to acting.


But Harper, who arrived for her audition some 20 pounds overweight, may have clinched the role when she blurted out in admiration to the show's tall, slender star: "Look at you in white trousers without a long jacket to cover your behind!"

A jury later decided that she was wrongfully terminated and awarded her more than $1 million in damages as well as a portion of profits from the show.

She'd even introduce recklessness into Mary's life, getting drunk while helping her write "advance obits" at home, and injecting gags in the obituary of Minneapolis's oldest citizen (with predictable results when the man actually died). Through the years, she's made plenty of guest appearances, including spots on "Sex and the City", "Melrose Place" and "That '70s Show".


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