Valerie Harper, best known for her turn as Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda, has died at the age of 80. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Harper’s family said the actress passed away Friday following an ongoing battle with cancer. After a diagnosis of lung cancer in 2009, Harper later revealed she had leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a condition in which malignant cells spread to the membranes around the brain and spine.
The actress began her career as a dancer on Broadway before making the leap to television stardom in 1970 as the warm, wisecracking best friend Rhoda Morgenstern to Moore’s Mary Richards. Harper won three Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmys for her work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and an Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy for the starring role in her character’s spin-off, Rhoda, which premiered in 1974. In 1986, Harper landed the short-lived eponymous sitcom Valerie.
While best known for her sitcom work, Harper also received a pair of Golden Globe nominations for her roles in 1974’s buddy-cop comedy Freebie and the Bean and 1979’s Chapter Two, based on the Neil Simon play of the same name. In 2010, Harper snagged a Tony nom for her turn as Tallulah Bankhead in the play Looped. On Friday afternoon, Harper’s peers and admirers paid homage to her on social media, including her Mary Tyler Moore Show co-star Ed Asner.