VALERIE HARPER Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Valerie Harper                                                                       
Born: 22 August 1940 Suffern, New York, USA                                                 
Valerie Harper (born August 22, 1940, in Suffern, New York) is an Emmy Award-winning       
American actress, best known for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern-Gerard on the               
1970s television show The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and its spinoff, Rhoda.                   
Harper was born in Suffern at Good Samaritan Hospital in Rockland County, New               
York, to a mixed Catholic/Lutheran family, and reared in Oregon. Because of her             
role on the The Mary Tyler Moore Show, however, it is often assumed she is                 
Jewish and was reared in New York City. Conversely, her former roommate, Arlene             
Golonka (Mayberry R.F.D.), is presumed to be Christian, though she is Jewish.               
She started out as a dancer/chorus girl on Broadway in the late 1950s and early             
1960s in such shows such as Take Me Along and Subways Are For Sleeping, as well             
as Wildcat, in which she performed with Lucille Ball. She can been seen as an               
extra in rock-and roll promo films that featured such artists as "Frankie Lymon             
and The Teenagers". In 2001 she returned to the Broadway stage to replace Linda             
Lavin in The Tale of the Allergist's Wife.                                                 
She also appeared in bit parts in several films beginning with Li'l Abner (1959),           
when she was a teenager. During the late 1960s, however, Harper worked somewhat             
less, though she appeared in Carl Reiner's play Something Different in 1968. She           
also wrote an episode of Love, American Style with her then-husband, actor/writer,         
Richard Schaal, whose daughter, actress Wendy Schaal (who voices "Francine Smith"           
on American Dad), was her stepdaughter.                                                     
Things changed when Harper got the role of the wise-cracking yet vulnerable uber-Jewish     
New Yorker, Rhoda Morgenstern, on two landmark CBS TV sitcoms of the 1970s: The             
Mary Tyler Moore Show (regular from 1970-74) and its spin-off Rhoda (1974-78),             
in which she played the title role. She won four Emmy awards and a Golden Globe             
for her work as Rhoda Morgenstern on both series. Her costar was David Groh (1939-2008).   
He was written out of the series in the third season through divorce.                       
She was also nominated for a Golden Globe for "New Star of the Year" for her               
role in 1974's Freebie and The Bean.                                                       
Harper was one of the first people to guest star on The Muppet Show in its first           
She also played family matriarch Valerie Hogan on the 1986 sitcom Valerie. It               
was renamed The Hogan Family in 1987 after Harper abruptly left the series (following       
a dispute with the producers) and was replaced by Sandy Duncan, who played her             
Harper has worked almost exclusively in theatre and television, and has also had           
roles in made-for-TV-movies and guest spots on a number of series, including Sex           
and the City. In the 1990s, she advocated hormone replacement therapy for the               
Eli Lilly company.                                                                         
Harper is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, and ran for president in the 2001           
election, losing to Melissa Gilbert. She currently serves on the national board             
of directors of S.A.G.                                                                     
A 2000 project, Mary and Rhoda, was planned as a reunion series for Harper and             
her friend and longtime co-star, Mary Tyler Moore, but the project instead                 
appeared as a made-for-TV movie on the ABC network.                                         
In 2007, Harper played Golda Meir in the traveling Broadway show, Golda's                   
Balcony, and also released a film version of the show.