Ed Asner, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Topher Grace, and more pay tribute to Valerie Harper
Valerie Harper‘s Mary Tyler Moore Show costars Ed Asner and Gavin MacLeod are among the many celebrities paying tribute to the actress who died Friday at the age of 80. Her cause of death is unknown at this time, but Harper was diagnosed with an incurable form of brain cancer in 2013, just four years after the actress had successfully beat lung cancer in 2009.
Harper was best known for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, for which she won three supporting actress Emmys. She also played the beloved character on the show’s spin-off, Rhoda, earning another Emmy and a Golden Globe, this time in a lead role. She also guest-starred on numerous television roles over the years, and competed on Dancing With the Stars in 2013.
Asner paid a loving tribute to his longtime Mary Tyler Moore Show costar shortly after news broke of her death, calling Harper “a beautiful woman, a wonderful actress, a great friend and with balls bigger than mine.” He continued: “Her brilliance burst through and shined its light upon all of us. Goodnight beautiful. I’ll see you soon.”
Fellow Mary Tyler Moore Show costar Gavin MacLeod also reacted to Harper’s death. “My life has been so enriched by having the experience of working with Valerie and calling her a friend,” MacLeod wrote in a statement to the Associated Press. “In 1970, when a group of actors, producers and writers gathered together to read the Mary Tyler Moore show pilot. Val although she was unknown at that time, we all realized a talented, gifted actress had appeared.”
Topher Grace, who acted alongside Harper in a 2001 episode of That ’70s Show, wrote on Twitter that he was “so sad to hear that the amazing Valerie Harper passed away.” He continued, “‘Aunt Paula’ was as wonderful to work with as she was funny. My best to her family.”
Another show Harper had a guest spot on was Hot in Cleveland, and she left an indelible impression on fellow guest star Jesse Tyler Ferguson. “Her career was one that I greatly admired and after getting the chance to work with her I soon fell in love with her spirit and soul,” Ferguson shared on his Facebook page. “My brief moments with Valerie will always be a highlight of MY life. God bless you and R.I.P. sweet Valerie Harper.”
From 2013-2018, Harper lent her voice talents to different characters on The Simpsons. Al Jean, executive producer for the animated show, shared a fun screengrab of one of her characters, with the caption, “Valerie Harper… pure joy.”
Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal also shared what an influence Harper was to him. “One of our all-time favorites has passed. Wonderful, funny, lovely, supportive and a huge influence on and off stage, we love you, Valerie,” he wrote.
Read on for more reactions to Harper’s death.
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