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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: September 4, 2019.

Loss of a Shining Star, Valerie Harper

The world has lost a shining star. Actress Valerie Harper comedy star of the Mary Tyler Moore Show dies at 80, on August 30, 2019, in Los Angeles, just eight days after her 80th birthday.

Valerie Harper’s daughter Cristina described her mother as a person filled with joy, who while they cleaned the house loved to listen to the Beach Boys, and danced more than she worked.

Harper survived beyond her doctors’ expectations

Diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare cancer of the lining of the brain, in 2013, Valerie, 79, survived beyond her doctors’ expectations.

As the condition of the actress, best known for playing Rhoda on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, progressed and as she declined her husband, Tony Cacciotti, wanted her at home rather than in hospice.

The Cast of the Mary Tyler Moore Show Top L to R, Valerie Harper, Ed Asner & Cloris Leachman, Bottom L to R, Gavin MacLeod, Mary Tyler Moore & Ted Knight. Photo Courtesy of ABC Archives

Cristina also said that her mother had always been her best friend.

Valerie, who was reared in the Catholic faith, faced her illness with strong faith, acceptance, and a positive spirit.

Their marriage deepened through her struggle with cancer

Tony Cacciotti, who was determined to be by his wife’s side no matter what, said that their marriage deepened through her struggle with cancer and that they had an extraordinarily strong friendship. 

Harper said she was grateful to have Cacciotti by her side as she fought her illness. 

Valerie Harper with her million dollar smile, started a fashion trend in the 1970’s with her brightly colored headscarfs.

She was also thankful for her career in acting and dancing.

Harper was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009 and then with a rare brain cancer. But she surpassed the odds for both diseases, even participating in Dancing with the Stars in 2014.

In 2014, Valerie also guest starred on the first two episodes of Hallmark’s inspirational Signed, Sealed, Delivered, created by Martha Williamson (Touched by an Angel). Valerie said “…what I love about Martha … She’s highly spiritual…as a Christian, (she has) a wonderful deep (faith) — but never finger-wagging, never using it as a way to put others down…”

After her diagnoses, she remained active

At this point, Valerie’s cancer had remained contained. She credited this to the prayers and good wishes of her friends and fans, along with the good work of her doctor and medical caregivers. After her diagnoses, she remained active and was also seen in the UP TV movie The Town That Came A-Courtin’.  

Valerie Harper won an Emmy Award playing Mary’s lovable sidekick on’ The Mary Tyler Moore Show’; Photo courtesty of ABC Archives.

Valerie Harper was nominated for eight Emmys and won four

Harper’s career spanned nearly seven decades in TV, film and theater. Valerie Harper was nominated for eight Emmys and won four. She was nominated for six Golden Globes and won one. She was also nominated for a best actress Tony in 2010 for her role in the Broadway play “Looped”.

After publicly sharing her cancer diagnosis, Valerie continued working on TV and stage well into her 70s. She was a positive inspiration until the end. 

Farewell beloved Valerie Harper, we thank you for sharing your beautiful talents with the world, but especially for giving us inspiration to keep the faith, courage to keep on living to the very end. You will be missed.

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