Valerie Harper is a famous American actress born on 22nd August, 1939. She was born to Iva Mildred and Howard Donald Harper in New York. She is quite famous for her roles in Freebie and the Bean and Chapter Two, which fetched her, Golden Globe Award.

Personal Life:

Valerie’s dad’s profession was that of a lighting salesman and mother was a trained nurse. They named Valerie by the tennis double champions the year, she was born. Valerie states that when she was to be born, her mother and father expected a son to be born. However, their wish for son was completed after Valerie’s younger brother Merrill was born. Valerie also has an elder sister named Leah and one half sibling Virginia from second marriage of her father. Valerie was the second child in the family raised in Catholic faith; however, she gave up on going church, quite early.

She admits that the role she played of Rhoda Morgenstern in TV series The Mary Tyler Moore Show is the foundation from her stepmother. She has completed her schooling from various different schools due to their movement from one place to another, within 2 years. This movement was because of the profession of her father. Valerie completed her graduation from Young Professionals School and also learnt ballet in New York as it was her dream to become a ballerina.

Valerie Harper got married to Richard Schaal, who was an actor, in the year 1964. She met her husband through her roommate. However, the relationship ended and they got divorced in 1978. Ten years later, Harper got hitched to Tony Cacciotti. The couple does have a child; they have adopted a daughter. Valerie was diagnosed with serious non-curable form of brain cancer in 2009 and doctors said she had only few months left. However, she responded to treatments positively and is getting better, but the terminal disease does not have a cure yet.


Harper started her career with Broadway shows as a chorus girl and dancer in Take Me Along. Her performance in Wildcat is quite well known along with some more. Lucille Ball, Subways Are For Sleepingand Take Me Along. She had a small role in 1959 in the movie version Li'l Abner. Harper started with the television career with the hit The Doctors, which was soap serial. She and her then husband Richard Schaal wrote one episode of Love, American Style.

Her work in theatre fetched her chance of her TV role of Rhoda Morgenstern which made her so famous and also four Emmy Awards along with one Golden Globe Award. Harper was invited as a guest star in 1976 for ‘The Muppet Show’.

While doing theater in Los Angeles in 1970, Harper was spotted by casting agent Ethel Winant, who called her in to audition for the role of Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She co-starred from 1970–1974 and then starred in the spin-off series, Rhoda (CBS 1974-1978) in which her character returned to New York. Her role in the TV series Freebie and The Bean and Chapter Two also fetched Golden Globe Awards. Harper also did some television movies, The Shadow Box, Melrose Place and Sex and the City (1999).

Last Modified: Apr 5, 2020

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