Valerie Harper facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Harper in 2007 at the Screen Actors Guild Foundation brunch
Valerie Kathryn Harper
August 22, 1939
Suffern, New York, U.S.
|Died||August 30, 2019
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis|
(m. 1964; div. 1978)
Tony Cacciotti (m. 1987)
Valerie Kathryn Harper (August 22, 1939 – August 30, 2019) was an American actress. She began her career as a dancer on Broadway, making her debut in the musical Take Me Along in 1959. Harper is best remembered for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off Rhoda in the 1970s. For her work on Mary Tyler Moore, she thrice received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, and later received the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on Rhoda.
From 1986 to 1987, Harper appeared as Valerie Hogan on the sitcom Valerie. Her most notable film appearances include roles in Freebie and the Bean (1974) and Chapter Two (1979), both of which garnered her Golden Globe Award nominations. Harper returned to stage work in her later career, appearing in several Broadway productions. In 2010, she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as Talullah Bankhead in the play Looped.
Activism and charity work
In the 1970s/80s, Harper was involved in the Women's Liberation Movement and was an advocate of the Equal Rights Amendment. With Dennis Weaver she co-founded L.I.F.E. in 1983, a charity that fed thousands of needy in Los Angeles.
Harper married actor Richard Schaal in 1964. They divorced in 1978. Harper married Tony Cacciotti in 1987. The couple shortly afterward adopted a daughter.
Illness and death
In 2009, Harper was diagnosed with lung cancer. She announced on March 6, 2013, that tests from a January hospital stay revealed she has leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition in which cancer cells spread into the meninges, the membranes surrounding the brain. She said her doctors had given her as little as three months life expectancy. Although the disease was reported to be incurable, her doctors said they were treating her with chemotherapy in an effort to slow its progress. In April 2014, Harper said she was responding well to the treatment. On July 30, 2015, Harper was hospitalized in Maine after falling unconscious, and taken via medevac to a larger hospital for further treatment. She was later discharged.
In 2016, Harper continued battling cancer with treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center but was well enough to appear in a short film, My Mom and the Girl, based on the experiences of director/writer Susie Singer Carter, whose mother has Alzheimer’s disease. In September 2017, she made this comment: "People are saying, 'She’s on her way to death and quickly'. Now it’s five years instead of three months ... I’m going to fight this. I’m going to see a way." At the time, Harper was developing a TV series with Carter. By July 2019, Harper was on a regimen of "a multitude of medications and chemotherapy drugs" and was experiencing "extreme physical and painful challenges" that require "around the clock, 24/7 care."
Harper died on the morning of August 30, 2019, in Los Angeles, 8 days after her 80th birthday.
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