US actress Valerie Harper, best known for the comedies Rhoda and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has died aged 80.
She died after being diagnosed with lung and brain cancer in 2009.
Her daughter Christina tweeted, “My dad has asked me to pass on this message: “My beautiful caring wife of nearly 40 years has passed away at 10:06am, after years of fighting cancer. She will never, ever be forgotten. Rest In Peace, mia Valeria. -Anthony.”
Harper played Rhoda Morgenstern, a sidekick to the Mary Richards character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show from 1970–1974. While Mary Richards was happily single, a rarity for the era, the Rhoda character was an outspoken, wisecracking woman desperate to find a husband.
Her character was so popular that the network spun off Rhoda, which ran from 1974-78. She won four Emmys for the two shows.
“I can’t tell you enough how much fun it was and how supported I felt,” she told the Television Academy Foundation in 2009.
“Even with all the feminism we had gone through, being married was equated with success,” she said.
In 1986 Harper starred in the sitcom Valerie, though she left after a salary dispute at the end of the second season and went on to guest on The Love Boat, Melrose Place, That ’70s Show, Sex and the City, Hot in Cleveland and Desperate Housewives.
Film credits included Freebie and the Bean, Blame It on Rio, The Last Married Couple in America and, Shiver.
In her memoir “I, Rhoda,” she quoted her friend Nicole Barth on the three main female characters in The Mary Tyler Moore Show: “Mary is who you wish you were. Rhoda is who you probably are. And Phyllis is who’ll you’re afraid you’ll become.”