Valerie Harper

Valerie Harper Biography(Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Valerie Kathryn Harper (born August 22, 1939) is an American actress known for her roles as Rhoda Morgenstern in the 1970s television series The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off, Rhoda, and later as Valerie Hogan in Valerie.

Early life

Harper was born in Suffern, New York, the middle child of three siblings. She claims her parents were expecting a boy and after her arrival her first and middle names derived from that year's women's doubles tennis champions, Valerie Scott and Kay Stammers. Her Canadian-born mother, Iva Mildred (née McConnell), was a nurse, and her father, Howard Donald Harper, was a lighting salesman. She is of French, English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh ancestry. She has an older sister, Leah; a younger brother, Merrill (who later took the name "Don") and a half-sister, Virginia, from her father's second marriage. Harper claims to have based her future character Rhoda Morgenstern on her Italian stepmother, Angela Posillico, and Penny Ann Green (née Joanna Greenberg), with whom she danced in the Broadway musical Wildcat. She was raised Catholic, although at an early age she "quit" the church.

The family moved every two years due to her father's work, attending schools in South Orange, New Jersey; Pasadena, California; Monroe, Michigan; Ashland, Oregon; and Jersey City, New Jersey. When her family returned to Oregon, Harper remained in the New York City area to study ballet. She attended Lincoln High School in Jersey City, graduating from the private Young Professionals School on West 56th Street, where classmates included Sal Mineo, Tuesday Weld, and Carol Lynley.


Broadway dancer and improv

Harper began as a dancer/chorus girl on Broadway in 1959 in the musical Li'l Abner and went on to perform in several Broadway shows, some choreographed by Michael Kidd, including Wildcat (starring Lucille Ball), Take Me Along (starring Jackie Gleason), and Subways Are For Sleeping. In-between she was also cast in Destry Rides Again but was forced to leave rehearsals due to illness. Her roommate, actress Arlene Golonka, introduced her to Second City improvisation theater and to improv performer Dick Schaal, whom Harper later married in 1965. Harper was stepmother to Schaal's daughter, Wendy, an actress. They lived in Greenwich Village. She returned to Broadway in February 2010, playing Tallulah Bankhead in Matthew Lombardo's Looped at the Lyceum Theatre.

Harper appeared in a bit part in the film version of Li'l Abner (1959), playing a Yokumberry Tonic wife. She broke into television on an episode of the soap opera The Doctors ("Zip Guns can Kill"). She was an extra in Love with the Proper Stranger. She toured with Second City with Schaal, Linda Lavin and others, later appearing in sketches on Playboy After Dark. Harper and Schaal moved to Los Angeles in 1968, and co-wrote an episode of Love, American Style.

In 1966, Harper appeared as a member of the cast on the classic ensemble comedy recording, "When You're In Love The Whole World is Jewish," along with her future TV Jewish Mother, Nancy Walker.

Television stardom

While doing theater in Los Angeles in 1970, Harper was spotted by casting agent Ethel Winant, who called her in to audition for the role of Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She co-starred from 1970"1974 and then starred in the spin-off series, Rhoda (CBS 1974-1978) in which her character returned to New York. She won four Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award for her work as Rhoda Morgenstern throughout this period. In 2000, Harper reunited with Moore in Mary and Rhoda, a TV movie that brought their iconic characters back together again in later life. The first season of Rhoda was released on DVD on April 21, 2009 by Shout! Factory.

She was nominated for a Golden Globe for "New Star of the Year" for her role in Freebie and The Bean (1974). Harper was a guest star on The Muppet Show in 1976, its first season.

Harper returned to situation comedy in 1986 when she played family matriarch Valerie Hogan on the NBC series Valerie. Following a salary dispute with NBC and production company Lorimar in 1987, Harper was fired from the series at the end of its second season. Harper sued NBC and Lorimar for breach of contract. Her claims against NBC were dismissed, but the jury found that Lorimar had wrongfully fired her and awarded her $1.4 million plus 12.5 percent of the show's profits. The series continued without her with the explanation that her character had died off-screen. In 1987, it was initially renamed Valerie's Family and then The Hogan Family, as Harper was replaced by actress Sandy Duncan, who played her sister-in-law Sandy Hogan. NBC canceled The Hogan Family in 1990, but it was picked up by CBS for a final season.

Harper worked almost exclusively in theater and television but also had key supporting roles in such feature films as Freebie and the Bean (1974) and Blame It on Rio (1984). She appeared in various television movies and in guest roles on such series as Melrose Place (1998) and Sex and the City (1999).

Later career

Harper is a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and ran for president in the 2001 election, losing to Melissa Gilbert. She served on the Hollywood Board of Directors of SAG.

In 2005 through 2006, Harper portrayed Golda Meir in a US National tour of the one-woman drama Golda's Balcony. A film of this production was released in 2007.

She played Tallulah Bankhead in the world-premiere production of Matthew Lombardo's Looped at the Pasadena Playhouse from June 27 to August 3, 2008, and at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. in 2009. The play had a brief run on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre, from February 2010 (previews) through April 2010. She played Claire Bremmer, aunt of Susan Delfino (Teri Hatcher), on ABC's Desperate Housewives in 2011. On September 4, 2013, ABC's Good Morning America announced Harper had been selected as a contestant on the 17th season of Dancing with the Stars. She is partnered with professional dancer Tristan MacManus.

Personal life

Harper and Schaal divorced in 1978. Harper married Tony Cacciotti in 1987; the couple has a daughter by adoption.

In the 1970s/80s, Harper was involved in the Women's Liberation Movement and was an advocate of the Equal Rights Amendment. With Dennis Weaver she co-founded L.I.F.E. in 1983, a charity that fed thousands of needy in Los Angeles.

In 2009, Harper was diagnosed with lung cancer. She announced on March 6, 2013 that tests from a January hospital stay revealed she has leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition in which cancer cells spread into the meninges, the membranes surrounding the brain. She said her doctors have given her as little as three months' life expectancy. Although the disease is incurable, her doctors said they were treating her with chemotherapy in an effort to slow its progress.


Year Title Role Notes
1956 Rock Rock Rock! Dancer at Prom (uncredited)
1959 Li'l Abner Luke's Wife (uncredited)
1963 Trash Program Wife (voice, uncredited) Short film
1969 With a Feminine Touch
1974 Freebie and the Bean Bean's Wife
1979 Chapter Two Faye Medwick
1980 ' Barbara
1984 Blame It on Rio Karen Hollis
2007 Golda's Balcony Golda Meir
2011 Shiver Audrey Alden
2011 Certainty Kathryn
Year Title Role Notes
1970"1977 ' Rhoda Morgenstern 90 episodes (1970-74)as a series regular; two appearances as a guest star (1975-77)
1971 Story Theatre TV series
1971 Love, American Style Barbara Watkins Episode: "Love and the Housekeeper"
1972 Columbo Eve Babcock Episode: "The Most Crucial Game"
1973 ' TV movie
1974 Thursday's Game Ann Menzente TV movie
1974"1978 Rhoda Rhoda Morgenstern Gerard 110 episodes
1976 The Muppet Show Herself Episode 10, Season 1
1977 Night Drive Night Terror (original title)

Carol Turner TV movie
1980 Fun and Games Carol Hefferman TV movie
1980 ' Maggie TV movie
1981 The Day the Loving Stopped Norma Danner TV movie
1982 Farrell for the People Elizabeth "Liz" Farrell TV movie
1982 Don't Go to Sleep Laura TV movie
1983 ' Kate Bianchi TV movie
1985 ' Hannah Epstein TV movie
1986 ' Laurel Peters Episode: "Egypt: Part 1"
Episode: "Egypt: Part 2"
1986 ' 1 episode
1986"1987 Valerie Valerie Hogan 32 episodes
1987 Strange Voices Lynn Glover TV movie
1988 Drop-Out Mother Nora Cromwell TV movie
1988 ' Rachel Yoman TV movie
1990 Stolen: One Husband Katherine Slade TV movie
1990 City Liz Gianni 13 episodes
1991 Perry Mason: The Case of the Fatal Fashion Dyan Draper TV movie
1993 ' TV movie
1994 Missing Persons Ellen Hartig 3 episodes
1994 ' Mrs. Delvecchio TV movie
1995 ' Rita Stone 6 episodes
1995 ' Grace TV movie
1996 Touched by an Angel Kate Prescott Episode: "Flesh and Blood"
1996 Promised Land Molly Arnold Episode: "The Magic Gate"
1997 Dog's Best Friend Chicken (voice) TV movie
1998 Generator Gawl Various TV series
1998 Melrose Place Mia Mancini Episode: "Mama Mia"
Episode: "Last Train to Baghdad"
1998 Sorcerous Stabber Orphen Townspeople (voice) Episode: "The Sword of Baltanders"
1999 Touched by an Angel Kate Prescott Episode: "Full Circle"
1999 Sex and the City Wallis Wysel Episode: "Shortcomings"
2000 Mary and Rhoda Rhoda Morgenstern Gerard Rousseau TV movie
2000 Beggars and Choosers Episode: "Be Careful What You Wish For"
2000 As Told by Ginger Maryellen (voice) Episode: "The Wedding Frame"
2001 That '70s Show Paula Episode: "Eric's Naughty No-no"
2001 Family Law Julia Episode: "Clemency"
2001 Three Sisters Merle Keats Episode: "The In-Laws"
Episode: "Three Thanksgivings, One Turkey'
2002 Dancing at the Harvest Moon Claire TV movie
2003 Less Than Perfect Judith Episode: "Claude's Alternative Thanksgiving"
2004 Less Than Perfect Judith Episode: "Mom's the Word"
2005 Committed Lily Solomon Episode: "The Mother Episode"
2009 'Til Death Barbara Episode: "The Courtship of Eddie's Parents"
2011 Desperate Housewives Claire Bremmer Episode: "Where Do I Belong?"
2011 My Future Boyfriend Bobbi Moreau TV movie
2011 Fixing Pete Mrs. Friedlander TV movie
2011 Drop Dead Diva Judge Leslie Singer Episode: "Bride-a-Palooza"
2012 Drop Dead Diva Judge Leslie Singer Episode: "Freak Show"
2013 The Simpsons Department of Standardized Testing Proctor Episode: "A Test Before Trying"
Year Title Role Notes
1959"1960 Take Me Along Lady Entertainer, Townswoman
1960"1961 Wildcat Dancer
1961"1962 Subways Are for Sleeping Dancer
1967"1968 Something Different Beth Nemerov Replacement
1970"1971 Paul Sills' Story Theatre Various
1971 Ovid's Metamorphoses Ensemble
1995 Death Defying Acts
1998-1999 All Under Heaven
2001"2002 ' Marjorie Replacement
2008"2010 Looped Tallulah Bankhead

Awards and nominations

Harper is a one-time Tony nominee, eight-time Emmy nominee (four wins) and a six-time Golden Globe nominee (one win).

Year Award Category Work Result
1971 Primetime Emmy Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Mary Tyler Moore Show
1972 Primetime Emmy Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Mary Tyler Moore Show
1972 Golden Globe Best Supporting Actress " Television The Mary Tyler Moore Show
1973 Primetime Emmy Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Mary Tyler Moore Show
1973 Golden Globe Best Supporting Actress - Television The Mary Tyler Moore Show
1974 Primetime Emmy Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Mary Tyler Moore Show
1974 Golden Globe New Female Star of the Year Freebie and the Bean
1974 Golden Globe Best Actress in a TV Comedy Series Rhoda
1975 Primetime Emmy Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Rhoda
1975 Golden Globe Best Actress in a TV Comedy Series Rhoda
1976 Primetime Emmy Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Rhoda
1977 Primetime Emmy Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Rhoda
1978 Primetime Emmy Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Rhoda
1979 Golden Globe Best Supporting Actress " Motion Picture Chapter Two
2010 Tony Awards Best Actress in a Play Looped

This biography article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Valerie Harper". Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions this article may contain.

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