Beloved television sitcom icon Valerie Harper died this Friday at the age of 80 after a long battle with cancer. American TV audiences in the 1970s grew up with Harper in their living rooms on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” in which she played the self-deprecating Rhoda Morgenstern. Rhoda served as the neurotic, comic foil to the otherwise buttoned-up Mary Tyler Moore. Harper won three Primetime Emmy Awards for her performance, and went on to reprise the cherished role in the spinoff series “Rhoda,” for which she also earned an Emmy, in 1975.
Online tributes have been pouring in for the late actress, who graced the big screen in such films as “Freebie and the Bean” (1974) and “Chapter Two” (1979), and earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play for her turn as actress Tallulah Bankhead in “Looped.”
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
Thank you brilliant Valerie- you gave us so much!!💔 RIP Valerie Harper pic.twitter.com/URF0SuzCux
— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) August 30, 2019
A beautiful woman, a wonderful actress, a great friend and with balls bigger than mine. Her brilliance burst through and shined its light upon all of us. Goodnight beautiful. I’ll see you soon. pic.twitter.com/FicADkSAzS
— Ed Asner (@TheOnlyEdAsner) August 30, 2019
The Mary Tyler Moore Show is interesting because it’s ultimately a wholesome show, but every character had a sarcastic streak that was invigorating. Valerie Harper could be withering and loving in the same breath. Love her forever.
— Louis Virtel (@louisvirtel) August 30, 2019
Rhoda Morgenstern — ambitious career woman, funny & artsy Jewish New Yorker, Mary’s BFF — was so relatable to me that I wore a scarf like hers all thru 7th grade.
RIP Valerie Harper. pic.twitter.com/D01PD9mpxI
— Julie Cohen (@FilmmakerJulie) August 30, 2019
Below, check out some memorable interviews with the actress. Harper began her career first in ballet and then as a Broadway dancer before making her way into film and television. Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Cristina Cacciotti.