The beloved TV actress Valerie Harper, who won four Primetime Emmy Awards playing Rhoda Morgenstern — three in a supporting role on “Mary Tyler Moore” and one as the lead in the spinoff “Rhoda” — is back in action despite struggling with health issues in recent years.
This time around, Harper is starring in a theatrical release, the short film “My Mom and the Girl,” which was screened this month for Oscar consideration and is awaiting distribution.
The AP reports that the project represents Harper’s return to work after a series of health setbacks. “She was diagnosed in 2013 with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition that occurs when cancer cells spread into the fluid-filled membrane surrounding the brain, and was given just months to live,” the story reports. “She has disproved that prognosis.”
Harper scaled back her workload after the diagnosis, but hasn’t left the business entirely. She continues to voice a number of characters on “Ths Simpsons” and has made a few guest appearances on TV, including on “2 Broke Girls.”
In the new project, Harper plays a woman with Alzheimer’s. The film was written, directed and produced by Susie Singer Carter, who stars opposite Harper. The project is based on Carter’s experiences with her own mother, Norma Holzer.
Said Harper: “The film was joyful to make, as well as emotionally difficult. There is a real joy to it, as well as sadness.”
Tony Cacciotti, Harper’s husband and manager, said of Harper: “She’s a fighter. I’m amazed every day what she can do, and now she wants to get back to work, which is very exciting.”
The AP adds: “Recently, he said, a drug that had proved a life-saver for the last four years started to lose its effectiveness, and Harper entered a second-stage trial for a new medication. She’s also working to boost her strength with daily walks and hoisting light weights while watching TV.”