Our choice in the aftermath of the death of actress Valerie Harper is to get mired in sadness or celebrate her brilliant comedy legacy. The MeTV Network has decided to do the latter, paying tribute to Valerie’s career with a special presentation of select episodes from the Classic TV series The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda, airing on MeTV this Sunday, September 8th beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET/PT through 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. (Episodes listed below).
Valerie will forever be remembered as Rhoda Morgenstern, the wisecracking and lovelorn best friend to Mary Richards on the Primetime Emmy award-winning series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. With her signature charm and snark, Harper made Rhoda one of the most memorable feminist icons of television in the 1970s, and earned three Primetime Emmy Awards for her performance, before landing her own spin-off series Rhoda in 1974.
Rhoda is the first and only television series to earn the top spot in Nielsen ratings for its premiere episode, where Rhoda leaves Minneapolis to return home to New York City and fires up a whirlwind romance with divorcee Joe Gerard, played by David Groh. At the time, the iconic New York wedding between Rhoda and Joe was the most watched television episode of the 1970s, with a whopping 52 million Americans tuning in. Airing from 1974-1978, the series earned 17 Primetime Emmy nominations, and seven Golden Globe nominations. Valerie herself earned her fourth Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical, as well as the Golden Globe for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy.
She went on to appear in a handful of television series, including The Love Boat, Touched By An Angel, Melrose Place, Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, Dancing with the Stars and 2 Broke Girls. In 2000, Valerie reunited with Mary Tyler Moore for the made-for-TV movie Mary and Rhoda. In 2013, Harper revealed that she had been diagnosed with a rare and incurable form of brain cancer, but continued to work, appearing in short films, on stage, and even voicing characters on animated series The Simpsons and American Dad.
Throughout her career, Valerie earned four Primetime Emmy Awards, one Golden Globe, and one Tony nomination. Outside of show business, she was a longtime representative for the Hunger Project, an organization that supports rural women in developing countries, and co-founded L.I.F.E. (Love Is Feeding Everyone) in 1983, a charity dedicated to preventing hunger in Los Angeles. Valerie is survived by her husband of 32 years, Tony Cacciotti.
The Valerie Harper marathon includes, on Sunday, September 8:
5:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, “Rhoda, The Beautiful” — Rhoda enters a beauty contest, but continues to put herself down.
5:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m.: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, “Is a Friend in Need” — Rhoda loses her job, but Mary doesn’t tell her about an opening at WJM.
6:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m.: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, “A Girl’s Best Mother Is Not Her Friend” — Rhoda’s mother visits with the intention of being her daughter’s best friend.
6:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m.: The Mary Tyler Moore Show , “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Rhoda” — Mary and Rhoda are best friends, but can they be roommates too?
7:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: Rhoda, “Rhoda’s Wedding Part 1” — Rhoda’s wedding day has finally arrived and is filled with mishaps.
7:30 p.m.-8:00.p.m.: Rhoda, “Rhoda’s Wedding Part 2” — Complications may ruin Rhoda’s wedding day.
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