Lifestyle & Human Interest

Actress Valerie Harper of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' Has Passed Away at Age 80


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.”

Actress Valerie Harper
Actress Valerie Harper in 1971. (Photo by Jack Mitchell/Getty Images)

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.”

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Mary Tyler Moore
1977: The cast of ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ stands with their arms around each other in the newsroom in a promotional portrait for the series finale. L-R: Gavin MacLeod, Edward Asner, Mary Tyler Moore, Ted Knight, Betty White, Georgia Engel, Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

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.

Tower Cancer Research Foundation's Tower Of Hope Gala - Arrivals
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – MAY 19: Actress Valerie Harper attends Tower Cancer Research Foundation’s Tower of Hope Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on May 19, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

Cacciotti vowed that he would continue to do everything within his power to make sure that his beloved wife is as comfortable as possible.

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Harper is survived by her husband and their daughter, Cristina.

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Keeley is a former contributor to The Western Journal.
Keeley is a former contributor to The Western Journal.