Valerie Harper Diagnosed With Terminal Cancer

Valerie Harper Diagnosed With Terminal Cancer

Valerie Harper, who played Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoff, Rhoda, has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and has been given less than three months to live.

People magazine reported on Wednesday that the 73-year-old actress received the news in mid-January.

She was diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition that occurs when cancer cells spread into the fluid-filled membrane surrounding the brain.

"I don't think of dying," Harper told the magazine. "I think of being here now."

Harper's television character Rhoda was one of the small screen's most beloved characters of the 1970s.

She won three consecutive Emmy awards as supporting actress on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and another for outstanding lead actress for Rhoda, which ran from 1974 to 1978.

Harper got her start in showbusiness as a dancer in several Broadway musicals, and worked with the Second City improv group.

"I was a dancer, but I was always a little overweight," she once told The Associated Press.

"I'd say 'Hello, I'm Valerie Harper and I'm overweight'. I'd say it quickly before they could. ... I always got called chubby, my nose was too wide, my hair was too kinky."

Accordingly, she played Rhoda at first as a plump, wisecracking contrast to slender, winsome Mary Richards.

But as the show evolved, Rhoda slimmed down and her own brand of beauty was acknowledged.

Harper returned to theatre after her TV success. In 2000, she reunited with Moore in the TV film Mary And Rhoda.

In recent years, Harper had guest roles on several TV series, and in 2010 was back on Broadway playing Tallulah Bankhead, a flamboyant star from Hollywood's Golden Age.

In January, she published a new memoir I, Rhoda.