Rest in peace. Shelley Morrison, the beloved actress best known for playing maid Rosario Salazar on Will & Grace, died at the age of 83, her publicist Lori DeWaal confirmed to Closer Weekly. The Associated Press was the first to report the news of her passing. Morrison died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles from heart failure, after a brief illness.
While Morrison was only set to star in one episode of the hit show, her character soon became a fan-favorite and series regular — appearing in a total of 68 Will & Grace episodes over the course of eight seasons, from 1999 to 2006.
“Shelley’s greatest pride as an actress was in playing the indomitable Rosario, in a comedy series that furthered the cause of social equity and fairness for LGBTQ people,” her husband Walter Dominguez said in a statement. “She also took pride in portraying a strong, loving yet feisty Latina character.”
“She believed that the best way to change hearts and minds was through comedy,” the statement continued. “The other great joy of her life was her 64-year marriage to her husband, filmmaker Walter Dominguez, and their many family members, including children and grandchildren who were adopted through traditional Native American ceremony.”
“Rosario is one of my all-time favorite characters,” Morrison said in a statement recently, according to the AP. “She reminds me a lot of my own mother, who loved animals and children, but she would not suffer fools. It is very significant to me that we were able to show an older, Hispanic woman who is bright and smart and can hold her own.”
Morrison’s Will & Grace costars mourned the news on Twitter. “Shelley was a beautiful soul & a wonderful actor,” Eric McCormack wrote. “Her work as Rosario, season after season, was as nuanced and real as it was hysterical. She will be missed by everyone at #WillandGrace, she’s a huge part of it. Sending so much love to Walter and Shelley’s whole family. #Rosario.”
“Oh, Shelley… what a loss,” Debra Messing tweeted. “Our dear Rosario has passed on. Shelley had a career that spanned decades, but she will always be our dear Rosie. All my love to Walter and the entire family. #shelleymorrison.”
Morrison’s 64-year career included roles from Sister Sixto in The Flying Nun with Sally Field to Linda Little Trees in Laredo. She recently celebrated her 83rd birthday in October.