Valerie Harper, best known for playing Rhoda Morgenstern on the beloved 1970s sitcoms “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Rhoda,” has revealed she has terminal brain cancer.
The actress, who also starred for two years on the ‘80s sitcom, “Valerie,” told People magazine, “I don’t think of dying. I think of being here now.”
Tests have determined Harper has leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a condition that happens when cancer spreads to the fluid surrounding the brain. According to the magazine, her doctors say she may have just three months to live.
This isn’t Harper’s first bout with cancer. She was previously diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009. Despite being a lifelong non-smoker, she developed a tumor on her top right lobe. After surgery successfully removed the tumor, she spoke with Yahoo! Health about her status as a cancer survivor, saying, “I’m of the thinking that we’re all terminal; no one is getting out of this alive. So you shouldn’t start sitting Shiva before it’s time. Live the best life you can. Be as healthy as possible.”
The 73-year-old actress has worked steadily since the height of her fame in the ‘70s. She most recently appeared on “Desperate Housewives” and voiced a character on an episode of “The Simpsons” that aired in January.
Harper’s role as Rhoda Morgenstern, the brash best friend of Moore’s Mary Richards, earned her four Emmy awards and led to her own spin-off series, which ran from 1974 to 1978.
Her next major sitcom, “Valerie,” was a success, but a dispute with producers over her salary led to the actress getting fired after two seasons. The sitcom was renamed “Valerie’s Family” and then “The Hogans.”
Harper sued NBC and the production company, Lorimar Television, for breach of contract in 1988 and won $1.4 million in damages and 12.5% of the show’s profits.
In January, Harper published the memoir, “I, Rhoda,” which she had been promoting when she got word about her cancer diagnosis.
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