Valerie Harper reveals she has terminal brain cancer: ‘I don’t think of dying, I think of being here now’
This is sad news about a beloved television icon: Valerie Harper has announced that she has terminal brain cancer.
Doctors have given her as little as three months to live.
‘I don’t think of dying,’ she tells People magazine. ‘I think of being here now.’
Valerie, who is 73, was diagnosed on January 15 with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition that occurs when cancer cells spread into the fluid-filled membrane surrounding the brain.
The diagnosis occurred when she was in rehearsals for a national tour of the play Looped in which she played actress Tallulah Bankhead. She had earned a Tony Award nomination for best actress when the show was on Broadway.
While Stefanie Powers replaced her in Looped, Valerie continued to promote her new memoir I, Rhoda and do book signings.
What a trouper.
She’s a four-time Emmy winner who we got to know as Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She spent four seasons on the show before getting her own hit spinoff, Rhoda, which lasted for five seasons.
Her next hit series came in the mid-80s: Valerie.
But in the second season, she was fired in a pay dispute and the show became Valerie’s Family then The Hogan Family. Harper sued and won but her later attempts at series television, City and The Office, last just one season each.
But she found success on Broadway in The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife and Looped and for two years starred at Golda Meir in the national tour of Golda’s Balcony which was made into a film.
She has also remained in demand on television in TV movies and guest spots on such shows as Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives and Melrose Place.
Valerie unsuccessfully ran for president of the Screen Actors Guild in 2002 against Melissa Gilbert and I did several interviews with her then because I was covering the unions for the LA Daily News.
I remember one particular interview especially. She was literally moments away from going onstage in Allergist’s Wife but I needed a response to something Gilbert had said and Valerie’s husband got the phone to her in the wings and she gave me the quote!
Anyway, my thoughts are with this television treasure and I hope she knows how much we all appreciate her talent and her spirit.