Hollywood is mourning the loss of a beloved sitcom star. After battling cancer for a number of years, Valerie Harper has passed away at the age of 80, reports The Inquisitr. Her family confided to ABC 7 that the acclaimed actress died this morning at 10:06 a.m.
The actress, best known for her titular role on the ’70s sitcom, Rhoda, was diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, lung cancer, and brain cancer. In 2013, Harper was given just three months to live but managed to miraculously pull through.
Harper began her career in show business as a dancer on Broadway. She eventually found mainstream success as the kooky, relatable neighbor Rhoda on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, later landing her own spin-off show.
While the incredibly talented actress shined in all of her roles, here are her five most memorable.
Rhoda Morgenstern in Rhoda and The Mary Tyler Moore Show
According to People, Harper played this beloved role for nearly a decade. When The Mary Tyler Moore Show first debuted Harper explained why she thought that Rhoda was a fan favorite.
“People identify with Rhoda because she’s a loser,” said the actress.
Despite the CBS show having poor ratings during its first season, Harper’s talent was undeniable. She won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of the spunky, insecure former window dresser.
The co-creator of The Mary Tyler Moore Show immediately knew Harper was going to be a star during her audition.
“She croaked out one line and we knew we had what we’d been looking for,” said James L. Brooks.
Rhoda’s spin-off, which ran from 1974-1978, proved to be a huge success. Fifty-two million viewers watched when the unlucky-in-love Rhoda finally walked down the aisle.
Faye Medwick in Chapter Two
Harper’s role in this 1977 romantic comedy, directed by Robert Moore, snagged her a Golden Globe nomination. The actress portrayed Faye Medwick in the adaptation of Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical Broadway play. Once again, Harper’s role consisted of a lead’s best friend. Unsurprisingly, Harper was a scene-stealer as the unhappy housewife.
Tallulah Bankhead in Looped
In 2010, just a year after her devastating lung cancer diagnosis, Harper went back to her Broadway roots and starred as Tallulah Bankhead in the play Looped. Harper’s raw and humorous portrayal of the troubled actress was praised by critics.
“Ms. Harper… commands the stage handily and reveals precise comic timing. She is not really a natural fit for the role — both the sandpaper voice and the flouncing hauteur seem applied from without — but she gives an enjoyably big, blustery performance, nailing every last laugh with a professionalism that the real Bankhead would surely admire,” wrote theater critic, Charles Isherwood, in a review for the New York Times.
Harper received a Tony nomination for her amazing performance.
Valerie Hogan in Valerie
In this 1980s sitcom, Harper starred as the titular role. The character Valerie Hogan was a put-upon mother-of-three with a largely absent husband. Unfortunately for both Harper and her loyal audience, the character was killed off in the show’s second season. According to the Los Angeles Times, Harper was replaced by Sandy Duncan due to a breach-of-contract dispute.
Consuelo Delgado in Freebie And The Bean
Arguably, Harper’s most iconic film role was Consuelo Delgado in this 1974 buddy cop movie, starring James Caan and Alan Arkin. The actress’s immense talent was applauded by audiences and critics alike. The A.V. Club noted that the role got Harper a Golden Globe nomination for “New Star Of The Year.”