SEVERE WX : Wind Advisory View Alerts

Valerie Harper, Emmy-winning 'Rhoda' star, dead at 80

Valerie Harper, who achieved fame as Rhoda on the classic sitcom "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and continued as the character in a popular spinoff series, has died after a long battle with cancer, her daughter Cristina Cacciotti and family friend Deanna Buskey confirmed to CNN.

Posted: Aug 31, 2019 9:30 AM
Updated: Aug 31, 2019 9:30 AM

Valerie Harper, who achieved fame as Rhoda on the classic sitcom "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and continued as the character in a popular spinoff series, has died after a long battle with cancer, her daughter Cristina Cacciotti and family friend Deanna Buskey confirmed to CNN.

She was 80.

Buskey, a friend of the family for more than 20 years, said the family was not "providing details at this time."

Buskey, who first met Harper and her husband while working with them on her theater production of "All Under Heaven," helped launch a GoFundMe account for Harper's care earlier this summer.

In July, Harper's husband, Tony Cacciotti, posted a message on Facebook saying he would not follow the advice of his wife's doctors and put her in hospice care, despite her worsening condition. He said he would "do my very best in making Val as comfortable as possible."

Cristina Cacciotti said her mother died at 10:06 a.m. Friday.

Harper was cast as Mary Richards' wisecracking best friend, Rhoda Morgenstern, and became so popular that she was spun off into her own show, "Rhoda," midway through the flagship program's run. She won four Emmys for the role.

The Rhoda character was originally conceived as an antagonist to Moore's Mary, but was eventually fashioned into her outspoken friend. Harper recalled MTM executive Grant Tinker fighting to maintain those qualities in the face of early network concerns that Rhoda was too abrasive.

Harper returned to sitcoms in the mid-1980s with a self-titled show, "Valerie," which cast her as a mother raising her children. But she was fired after two seasons because of a contractual dispute with the studio and network, and wound up suing for wrongful termination, eventually receiving a settlement of $1.4 million.

NBC kept the series -- renaming it first "Valerie's Family" and later "The Hogan Family" -- with Sandy Duncan brought in to fill the void left by Harper's character, who was killed off.

In a 2009 interview with the Television Academy's Archive of American Television, Harper said had she been new to the business, the "difficult" label might have stuck to her. As it was, she said, "We went to court (and) they lost, big time. And you go on. ... It didn't harm my career."

The actress did remain active -- primarily in series guest work and made-for-TV movies -- and played Rhoda again in a 2000 TV movie, "Mary and Rhoda," which reunited the characters along with their grown daughters.

At the time, Harper recalled Moore telling her in regard to doing the movie -- which was initially pitched as a sitcom revival -- "Maybe we'll fall on our faces, but let's take a chance."

Harper battled lung cancer and was subsequently diagnosed with another form of cancer, leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, in 2013. Her family recently started a GoFundMe page to help with the cost of her treatments.

Born in New York, Harper began her career as a dancer -- performing at Radio City Music Hall in the 1950s -- and later joined the comedy troupe Second City. She was also heard on the comedy album "When You're in Love, the Whole World is Jewish," a follow-up to the popular 1960s sketch piece "You Don't Have to be Jewish."

Off screen, Harper was active in politics and charitable endeavors, advocating for the Equal Rights Amendment and championing a charity known as L.I.F.E., which stood for Love Is Feeding Everyone.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 926931

Reported Deaths: 9740
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1809132056
Ramsey749811054
Dakota68505591
Anoka64961589
Washington41119367
Stearns34021287
St. Louis29939416
Scott26281188
Wright26260226
Olmsted22677131
Sherburne19206130
Carver1687671
Clay12219108
Blue Earth1162171
Rice11578139
Crow Wing11318124
Chisago1005281
Kandiyohi9913108
Otter Tail9908130
Benton9174128
Beltrami8249100
Goodhue822699
Douglas7967101
Itasca779999
Mower740049
McLeod723384
Winona715158
Isanti711085
Steele695034
Morrison678681
Becker631675
Polk608987
Freeborn569947
Carlton552577
Mille Lacs539479
Lyon532961
Nicollet528561
Nobles527954
Pine521143
Cass505255
Todd496443
Brown473661
Le Sueur464736
Meeker437960
Martin391344
Waseca381433
Wabasha380110
Dodge366412
Hubbard357649
Roseau320532
Fillmore310115
Wadena306040
Redwood283845
Houston275317
Renville271651
Faribault261835
Sibley256017
Pennington254830
Kanabec254437
Cottonwood232933
Aitkin225052
Chippewa222043
Pope209910
Watonwan201121
Yellow Medicine189925
Koochiching179225
Rock178429
Swift174124
Stevens170211
Jackson162016
Clearwater159421
Marshall154822
Murray152911
Pipestone150929
Lake134124
Lac qui Parle124425
Wilkin122016
Mahnomen108314
Norman10579
Grant102410
Big Stone9585
Lincoln8915
Kittson74623
Red Lake71810
Traverse6086
Unassigned563124
Lake of the Woods5285
Cook3141

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 532160

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk81677809
Linn32838430
Scott27126295
Black Hawk22334382
Woodbury20736263
Johnson20150108
Dubuque18996243
Pottawattamie16215214
Dallas15573115
Story1398059
Warren8637107
Cerro Gordo8141125
Clinton7928115
Webster7419124
Des Moines7153106
Marshall675494
Muscatine6717117
Wapello6546145
Unassigned64520
Jasper630591
Sioux622477
Lee5977106
Marion567697
Buena Vista503449
Plymouth493388
Henry427155
Benton414760
Jones413564
Bremer403873
Boone397042
Washington395464
Carroll373355
Mahaska372366
Crawford355647
Jackson324047
Dickinson317555
Buchanan312743
Delaware303255
Clay297636
Kossuth293477
Fayette290356
Hardin289253
Tama282878
Page276133
Wright270050
Cedar269527
Winneshiek267744
Hamilton262757
Floyd261049
Clayton252360
Poweshiek242043
Harrison240979
Madison237425
Butler237346
Cass235667
Iowa234336
Jefferson228544
Mills225330
Hancock222840
Winnebago222339
Cherokee217347
Appanoose210157
Lyon209842
Allamakee209456
Calhoun199519
Shelby199542
Union197141
Humboldt188231
Franklin188031
Grundy186137
Chickasaw184522
Mitchell184343
Emmet180146
Louisa178653
Sac175626
Guthrie169338
Clarke163629
Montgomery163146
Keokuk152639
Palo Alto152332
Howard150624
Monroe144340
Ida134141
Greene128818
Davis126825
Lucas126127
Monona124940
Worth12309
Pocahontas122125
Adair118239
Osceola105718
Decatur104813
Taylor100914
Fremont98913
Van Buren95922
Wayne86125
Ringgold78429
Audubon77617
Adams5869
Rochester
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 22°
Mason City
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 23°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 23°
Austin
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 24°
Charles City
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 23°
Tracking cold and snow for next week
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Santa Cycle Rampage

Image

Shop with a Cop

Image

Full 10 PM Forecast 12/4/21

Image

Annalise Magid example 1

Image

Annalise Magid example 2

Image

StormTeam 3 Online Forecast 12/4/21

Image

StormTeam 3 Web Weather Forecast 12/4/2021

Image

Groundbreaking "Utica Queen" exhibition to open at Rochester Art Center

Image

Data shows drop in unsheltered homelessness in Olmsted County

Image

Aaron's Friday Night Weather (12/3/21)

Community Events