NEW YORK — Valerie Harper, who played Rhoda Morgenstern on television’s “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and its spinoff, “Rhoda,” has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
People magazine reported on its website today that the 73-year-old actress received the news on Jan. 15. Tests revealed she has leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition that occurs when cancer cells spread into the fluid-filled membrane surrounding the brain. The report says Harper’s doctors have said she has as little as three months to live.
“I don’t think of dying,” Harper told the magazine in a cover interview. “I think of being here now.”
Harper’s character, Rhoda, was one of television’s most beloved characters during the 1970s, and the tart-tongued, self-deprecating Rhoda made Harper a star. She won three consecutive Emmys (1971-73) as supporting actress on “Mary” plus another for outstanding lead actress for “Rhoda,” which ran from 1974-78.
In recent years, Harper had guest roles on several TV series, and in 2010 was back on Broadway playing Tallulah Bankhead, a flamboyant star from Hollywood’s Golden Age.