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Rhoda, She Wrote: ‘Mary Tyler Moore’ Writer On Creating Valerie Harper's Alter Ego

Valerie Harper in Rhoda
Valerie Harper in Rhoda

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Valerie Harper, who scored guffaws, stole hearts and busted TV taboos as the brash, self-deprecating Rhoda Morgenstern on back-to-back hit sitcoms in the 1970s, has died at the age of 80. 

Longtime family friend Dan Watt confirmed Harper died Friday, adding the family wasn’t immediately releasing any further details. She had been battling cancer for years, and her husband said recently he had been advised to put her in hospice care.

Harper was a breakout star on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” then the lead of her own series, “Rhoda.” 

Many women credit the character of Rhoda has an inspiration to women in the modern workforce. Over the weekend, one of the TV writers of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” wrote about how she drew on personal experience for Rhoda’s character. We talk with Susan Silver, plus if the character of Rhoda was significant to you, give us a call at 866-893-5722.

With files from the Associated Press.


Susan Silver, a former TV writer for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "The Bob Newhart Show" and "The Partridge Family," among other series; author of "Hot Pants in Hollywood: Sex, Secrets & Sitcoms" and a piece in the Washington Post this weekend, looking back at her work in creating the character, Rhoda Morgenstern