Valerie Harper as Rhoda Morgenstern was my TV idol. As a sometimes-chubby, almost always self-conscious kid, she represented what I could become: confident, outspoken, and perfectly imperfect.
Valerie the woman summed up her terminal cancer diagnosis with grace and acceptance, telling People Magazine:
I’m ready. I’m ready to go. “Maybe that’s the secret. That I’m absolutely — I don’t want to, my God, I want to live to be 102. … But I am not banking on anything, really, because we shouldn’t. We don’t know what’s around the corner. I think you just take each day and get the best out of it and do what you can and have fun.”People Magazine, 2014
Doctors gave her three months to live. She died last week, six years after her diagnosis.
BTW Ed Asner, who seemed ancient 40 years ago, is still alive and working (Dead to Me) and turning 90 this year. Betty White is 97. (And another worthy icon.)
52-million people watched Rhoda and Joe get married. By comparison, 19.3-million watched the finale of Game of Thrones. Enjoying a show like Rhoda, or Mary Tyler Moore, pre-VCRs and digital availability, was a collective experience. In the 70s, everybody knew who Valerie Harper was. We don’t get Hulu, or I would have gone on a Rhoda-watching binge last Friday night.
I wrote about her influence on me in 2013. And about the time I visited her house. (Bit of an overstatement, but technically true!) That post is HERE. I loved you, Val. And Rhoda, too.