Valerie Harper, who fans got to know as part of The Mary Tyler Moore show and later her own spinoff series, has died at the age of 80. Harper had been battling cancer since January 2013, specifically leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, an incurable type of cancer that at the time doctors said would take her life in three months (via THR). Harper defied that expectation though and would reveal eight months later that her cancer was close to remission. Harper's daughter Cristina Cacciotti shared a message on Twitter from her father Anthony, who said: "My beautiful caring wife of nearly 40 years has passed away at 10:06am, after years of fighting cancer."
While she's been dealing with cancer for quite a while, she has never let it become the only thing she thinks about, something she talked about during an appearance on The Doctors in 2013.
"I'm a big mouth. … I really want Americans and all of us to be less afraid of death, know that it's a passage," Harper said. "But don't go to the funeral before the day of the funeral. While you're living, live."
Many fans know Harper from her role as Rhoda in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but they also know her from her popular spinoff show Rhoda, which came in 1974 after the character appeared in 92 episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Rhoda ran for four and a half seasons from 1974 to 1977, with the first three being immensely successful.
Harper also lent her voice to animated series like The Simpsons, where she played a bevy of characters over the years, and American Dad!. In recent years she also appeared in Children's Hospital, 2 Broke Girls, Melissa & Joey, and Signed, Sealed, Delivered.
Our thoughts are with Harper's family and friends at this difficult time.