Actress Valerie Harper Dies After Long Battle With Cancer At Age 80

After a decade-long battle with cancer, actress Valerie Harper has passed away at the age of 80. Harper was best known for her television role as Rhoda Morgenstern on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off series Rhoda in the ’70s. Valerie died on Friday, August 30th, 2019 at 10:06 am. She was 80 years old, survived by her loving husband, Tony.

Valerie Kathryn Harper was born on August 22, 1939, in Suffern, New York. Her father was a lighting salesman, and her mother was a nurse. She had two siblings as well as a half-sister. But, while she was born in New York, the family did move around the country a lot due to the nature of her father’s work. Therefore, she lived in many cities throughout the country, later settling back in her home state of New York to study ballet.

The Amazing Life of Valerie Harper

Valerie Harper / Wikimedia Commons

Her career started in 1959. She was a dancer on Broadway, and she landed her first role in the musical Take Me Along. She later took her talents to television and film.

Valerie Harper and Mary Tyler Moore / Wikipedia

While she’s best known for playing Rhoda on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda, she also played Valerie Hogan on the Hogan Family and made appearances in such films as Freebie and the Bean and Chapter Two.

‘Rhoda’ cast / Wikimedia Commons

Valerie went on to win three Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and then for Outstanding Lead Actress in Rhoda. Then, later in her career, she made a triumphant return to Broadway.

Valerie Harper / Wikimedia Commons

Near the end of her career in 2013, she was a contestant on the popular show Dancing with the Stars. She was also deeply involved in charity work throughout most of her life and was heavily involved in the Women’s Liberation Movement and pushing to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Valerie also co-founded L.I.F.E, with Dennis Weaver, which assists in feeding the homeless in Los Angeles.

Inside Valerie Harper’s Private Life

Valerie married actor Richard Schaal in 1964, but they later divorced in ’78. She then went on to marry Tony Cacciotti a decade later, and they adopted a daughter together. Sadly, Valerie was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009.

According to Wikipedia, in 2013, she shared with the world that she had, “leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition in which cancer cells spread into the meninges, the membranes surrounding the brain.”

Tony Cacciotti and Valerie Harper / John Lamparski/Getty Images

While she lived much longer than doctors believed she could, Valerie’s battles with cancer continued until 2019. Her husband Tony even asked for assistance with setting up a GoFundMe account to help pay for Valerie’s treatments. Towards the end, she needed many drugs as well as around the clock treatments. Generous fans stepped in and donated thousands of dollars towards Valerie’s care

She is survived by her husband Tony, and their daughter.

May you rest in peace Valerie Harper, thank you for living an inspirational life. You will be missed.

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