Actress Valerie Harper, most famously known for her character Rhoda Morgenstern on the 1970s sitcom “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” passed away at age 80 on Aug. 30, 2019.
In late July, Harper’s doctors recommended that she go into hospice care, but her husband of 32 years, Tony Cacciotti, refused: “As long as I’m able and capable, I’ll be where I belong right beside her.”
Fans loved Harper’s character on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” so much that a spinoff show, “Rhoda,” was created and aired from 1974 to 1978. Then in the 1980s, Harper starred in “Valerie,” appeared in several movies and accepted four Emmy Awards.
“I’ve had a wonderful career,” she told Fox News in 2017. “I got to be an actress. I was a dancer. And then I grew into this area of acting and that was just so wonderful.”
In 2013, Harper learned that she had been diagnosed with a form of terminal brain cancer called leptomeningeal carcinomatosis; this rare condition occurs when cancerous cells spread in the membrane around the brain.
At that time, doctors predicted she only had a few months to live, but the actress refused to let her grim diagnosis ruin her ability to appreciate life.
“I don’t think of dying,” she told People. “I think of being here now.“
But this wasn’t the first cancer diagnosis the Hollywood starlet endured. In 2009, she also battled lung cancer and beat it, according to Fox.
Then on July 23, 2019, Cacciotti posted on Harper’s Facebook page to update fans on her condition.
“I have been told by doctors to put Val in Hospice care and I can’t [because of our 40 years of shared commitment to each other] and I won’t because of the amazing good deeds she has graced us with while she’s been here on earth,” he wrote.
Cacciotti vowed that he would continue to do everything within his power to make sure that his beloved wife is as comfortable as possible.
Harper is survived by her husband and their daughter, Cristina.
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