Valerie Harper, best known for playing Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has passed away at age 80. Harper starred as the fast-talking New Yorker, Rhoda, for nine seasons and it made her one of the most beloved TV actresses of her time. The role earned her four Emmys, a Golden Globe, and a spinoff series called Rhoda.
Harper's portrayal of Rhoda as an irreverent, no-nonsense single woman from the Bronx played impeccably off Mary Tyler Moore's adorable, perfectly-dressed Midwestern energy. The delightfully polar opposite pair emerged as one of the strongest female friendships on television and became a blueprint for many shows that came out aftward.
Harper's portrayal of Rhoda was so beloved by fans that she was given her own titular spin-off show.In total, she appeared in 92 of the 168 episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Then, from 1974-1975 she starred in Rhoda, a spin-off produced by Mary Tyler Moore and Moore's husband at the time, Grant Tinker.
Rhoda was such a popular series that it actually beat Monday Night Football in the ratings.Rhoda's wedding episode was the "highest-rated television episode of the 1970s, until Roots came along in 1977," according to ME TV. 53 million Americans watched as Rhoda ran around New York City in her wedding gown.
She was well-paid for her talents.People Magazine reports that Harper made "$25,000 and a percentage in the series," which was extremely high for an actress in the 1970s.
Then, in 2013, Harper was tragically diagnosed with a rare and fatal condition.Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis is a rare complication of cancer in which the disease spreads to the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Tragically, it's incurable and Harper was given only three months to live. And that's when something strange happened. She actually started to get better.
In September of 2013, she had gone into remission and accepted an invitation to the join the cast of Dancing With the Stars.When asked why she accepted, she told People Magazine, "When life asks you to dance, you just have to dance." Harper ended up rearranging her treatment schedule in order to make rehearsals for the show. She hoped it would be inspiring for others to see a 74-year-old with terminal cancer dancing on national television.
The former ballerina worked hard to keep herself healthy."As long as you’re alive, you can do something," Harper famously said to AARP. In 2017, she felt well enough to return to work with a role in a short film titled My Mom and The Girl, and then did voice work on animated shows, The Simpsons and American Dad! Her credits include Li’l Abner (1959), Freebie and the Bean (1974), The Last Married Couple in America (1980) and Blame It on Rio (1984). She and Mary Tyler Moore created an ABC movie called Mary and Rhoda in 2000, and later, she guest-starred on Desperate Housewives. She worked all the way up until her death, with roles on Two Broke Girls, Melissa & Joey and Hot in Cleveland.
Tragically, the disease returned and claimed Harper's life.But we'll always remember her for her fabulous outlook and brilliant acting. Sadly, Harper wasn't the only big celebrity to die in 2019...
Luke Perry, fifty-two.The actor was best known for his roles in Beverly Hills: 90210, and, more recently, on hit Netflix series, Riverdale. Perry died due to complications after having a stroke, in Los Angeles on the 4th of March.
Peggy Lipton, seventy-two.The multitalented actress, model, and singer rose to fame on counterculture TV hit, The Mod Squad, but was introduced to a whole new audience through her role in David Lynch's Twin Peaks. Lipton died of colon cancer in Los Angeles on the 11th of May.
Carol Channing, ninety-seven.Channing was an American actress, singer, dancer, and comedian, known for her work on both stage and screen. She won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Thoroughly Modern Millie, and appeared repeatedly on the Ed Sullivan Show. She died on January 15th, just sixteen days before her ninety-eighth birthday.
Nipsey Hussle, thirty-three.Born Ermias Joseph Asghedom, Nipsey Hussle was a rapper, entrepreneur, and community activist who emerged on the West Coast hip hop scene in the mid '00s. He was murdered for unknown reasons, shot by one Eric Holder, outside his Los Angeles clothing store on March 31st.
Jo Andres, sixty-four.Andres was a filmmaker best known for 1996's Black Kite. She was the wife of movie star, Steve Buscemi, having been together for over thirty-one years. Andres died on January 6th in her home in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York, from encapsulating peritoneal sclerosis.
Steve Bell, eighty-three.
Dick Miller, ninety.Richard (Dick) Miller was an American actor who reportedly featured in over 180 movies. His most recognizable roles were in Gremlins, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, The Little Shop of Horrors, Night of the Creeps, and The Terminator. He died of natural causes in his home in Los Angeles.
Kristoff St. John, fifty-two.St. John is best known for his role as Neil Winters on daytime soap, The Young & The Restless, the most watched daytime drama, winning two Emmy's for his work. He also won eleven NAACP Image Awards. St. John was found dead at his home in Los Angeles, with the cause of death listed as heart failure.
Julie Adams, ninety-two.Adams was an actress, known for her role in Creature of the Black Lagoon, and her starring lead role as Eve Simpson in Murder, She Wrote. She passed away on February 3rd in Los Angeles, and is survived by two sons.
Karl Lagerfeld, eighty-five.The iconic fashion designer was primarily known as the creative director of the fashion house, Chanel, where he worked until his death. Lagerfeld fell victim to complications of pancreatic cancer on February 19th.
Albert Finney, eighty-two.Finney was a British actor with an impressive five Oscar nominations over his lifetime. They were for Tom Jones, Murder on the Orient Express, The Dresser, Under the Volcano, and Erin Brockovich. He died of a chest infection in London, UK, on February 7th.
Carmen Argenziano, seventy-five.Argenziano had an illustrious acting career. He's best known for his role as Jacob on Stargate SG-1. He also appeared in many television shows, including Cheers, Melrose Place, Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, and Hawaii Five-0. He died in Los Angeles on February 10th.
Beverly Owen, eighty-one.Owen was an American TV actress, best known as the original Marilyn Munster on The Munsters. She died of ovarian cancer in Montpelier, Vermont, on February 21st.
Stanley Donen, ninety-four.Legendary Hollywood director, Stanley Donen, was best known for his movies On The Town and Singin' In The Rain, which he co-directed alongside Gene Kelly. He also directed classics like 1957's Funny Face, and 1954's Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, and won a lifetime achievement Academy Award in 1998. Donen died on February 21st in New York City of heart failure.
Peter Tork, seventy-seven.Tork was a musician best known as the keyboardist and bass player of pop band, The Monkees. Tork announced that he'd been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma. Although he was successfully treated multiple times, he eventually succumbed to his illness on February 21st.
Katherine Helmond, eighty-nine.Sitcom star, Katherine Helmond, was nominated for an Emmy seven times. She was best known for her roles on Who's The Boss, and Soap, alongside a guest appearance on Everybody Loves Raymond in 2002. Helmond died in her home in Los Angeles on February 23rd of Alzheimer's disease.
Keith Flint, forty-nine.The lead singer of UK electro-dance band, The Prodigy. Having struggled with depression all of his life, Flint died by suicide in his home in Essex, UK, on March 4th.
Jed Allan, eighty-four.Jed Allan was a legendary actor best known for his work in a range of popular soap operas. He played Don Craig on Days Of Our Lives, and Rush Sanders on Beverly Hills: 90210. Allan died at home in Palm Desert, California on March 9th, eight days after his eighty-fourth birthday.
John Carl Buechler, sixty six.
Buechler was a legendary special effects artist, working on movies including Troll, Friday the 13th: Part VII, Halloween 4, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4. He died of prostate cancer on March 18th.