Earlier this year, Valerie Harper announced that she has terminal brain cancer and possibly only three months to live. For some reason, this really hit me hard. Valerie Harper played one of the most iconic TV characters—and one of my absolute favorites—Rhoda Morgenstern on the Mary Tyler Moore Show.
One must admit that the entire Mary Tyler Moore cast was full of some of the most talented and funny actors in the history of the universe. But Rhoda stood out in my opinion and many many other people agree.
There was just something about this wonderful character Valerie Harper created. Rhoda was believable, funny, smart and very lovable. It was easy to put Mary on a pedestal, but you wanted Rhoda as a friend. Rhoda emanated a warmth that was 100 percent Valerie Harper. Valerie’s friends have been commenting over the past few weeks about what a giving person she is and a supportive friend through and through.
And Rhoda’s style was magnificent! I need a moment just to talk about the scarf. Don’t tell me you haven’t tried wrapping your head in a scarf at least once? Because you’d be lying. And we can thank Valerie for that, whose stylist wore a scarf and she thought it would work well on Rhoda. And boy did it ever. And that stylist? She ended up doing her own fashion label. Thanks to encouragement from Valerie Harper.
But Rhoda’s wonderful character was too big to be squeezed into the role of Mary’s bestie. She deserved her own show, which was just as wonderful as Mary Tyler Moore’s show in my mind! The show was also a little love letter to New York. In fact Rhoda took the subway to her own wedding. In a fabulous wedding dress no less! With a matching white sweater to boot.
So, three cheers for Rhoda and best wishes and love to Valerie Harper. Thank you for leaving an indelible, beautiful, scarf-wrapped fingerprint on my childhood and my life. You are a part of of us all.
If you want to read about some more Valerie Harper love, I suggest you go to Made for TV Mayhem for links to other wonderful Rhoda tributes.