‘Mary Tyler Moore’ Star Valerie Harper Dead at 80

August 30, 2019

Legendary actress Valerie Harper died Friday morning after battling cancer, her family has confirmed. She turned 80 on Aug. 22.

The Suffern, New York-born star died at 10:06 a.m. Friday. The cause of death was not immediately disclosed.

Longtime family friend Dan Watt confirmed Harper's death, adding the family wasn’t immediately releasing any further details. She had been battling cancer for years, and her husband said recently he had been advised to put her in hospice care.

Fans had long feared the news of her passing. In 2013, she first revealed that she had been diagnosed with brain cancer and had been told by her doctors she had as little as three months to live. Some responded as if a family member were in peril.

But she refused to despair. “I’m not dying until I do,” Harper said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show. “I promise I won’t.” Harper did outlive her famous co-star: Mary Tyler Moore died in January 2017. Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman and Betty White are among the former cast members who survive her.

In recent years, Harper’s other appearances included “American Dad!” ″The Simpsons” and “Two Broke Girls.”

Harper kicked off her career as a dancer on Broadway, making her debut in the musical "Take Me Along" in 1959,

She is best known as Rhoda Morgenstern on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and then the character was spun off to her own sitcom, "Rhoda," in the late 1970s.

She won four Emmys and a Golden Globe for her work in those two shows.

Harper returned to TV as the lead in the sitcom "Valerie," though she left the show after the second season.

She is survived by her husband Tony Cacciotti and daughter Cristina Harper.