‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’: Why Valerie Harper Said She Got Her Role on Show ‘Very Easily’

by Keeli Parkey

Getting cast to play the character Rhoda Morgenstern on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” changed Valerie Harper’s life and put her on the path to a very successful career.

According to PopEntertainment.com, before she was cast on the iconic sitcom the actress had a difficult time finding roles. However, getting cast to play a neighbor and friend of Mary Tyler Moore’s character came “very easily” for her.

“I got (the role of Rhoda) very easily,” Harper told the website during 2007.

So, what made the actress think her job on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was so easy to land? Well, according to the interview she was given the role only minutes after auditioning.

“I was immediately given the job,” Harper added. “I was driving home, 10 minutes from the audition room, and my then-husband, Dick (Schaal, the actor), was out on the lawn yelling, ‘You got it! You got it!'”

The Rhoda actress goes on to say that that moment in her life was “incredible.”

“It was incredible, because I had gone out for commercials and had 12 callbacks that failed,” Harper added. “It seemed too easy, too painless. And yet it was the most important thing for my career.”

Success of Rhoda Character, Sitcom Led to Spinoff of ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’

She’s not wrong about that. Not only did “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” go on to be a huge hit and an award-winning show. – it also remains one of the most iconic sitcoms of all time. And, it gave Valerie Harper the chance to star in the spinoff series, which is aptly titled “Rhoda.”

According to IMDb.com, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” aired from 1970 until 1977. “Rhoda” aired from 1974 until 1978. This spinoff followed Valeria Harper’s character after she left Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is where “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was set, to live in New York City.

“Rhoda” was also a successful award-winning show. It won two Golden Globe awards in 1975. The show won the award for Best TV Show – Comedy or Musical and Valerie Harper won the award for the Best TV Actress – Comedy or Musical. Harper also won a Primetime Emmy award that same year for her performance as the title character.

Valerie Harper died on Aug. 30, 2019, in Los Angeles, California. She was 80 years old. She continued working up to the year that she died. According to her filmography, she voiced a character on “American Dad” that year. She had also voiced characters on “The Simpsons” in the years prior to her death. She also appeared in many other television shows during her decades-long career.

“Rhoda” wasn’t the only spinoff show that came from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” The other was “Lou Grant” and it starred Ed Asner and the tough, but lovable, newsman.