The television and stage actress, who has been waging a forthright public battle with cancer that spread from her lungs to her brain, is resting comfortably at an undisclosed location, according to a statement released tonight by Bradford Kenney, executive artistic director of the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine. Best known for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoff Rhoda, Harper has been performing in a summer stock production of the Gershwin musical Nice Work If You Can Get It. She was taken to a nearby hospital on Wednesday evening after saying she was feeling ill. Deadline reported Thursday that she had been released from the hospital after a brief stay and was recovering. Several other outlets, however, reported that the 75-year-old star was in a coma.
“There have been conflicting reports in the media regarding Valerie Harper’s condition after being admitted to the hospital Wednesday evening prior to going on stage at the Ogunquit Playhouse,” the statement from the Playhouse said. “Bradford Kenney has been in direct communication with Valerie’s family from the beginning and can report that Valerie is not, and has never been, in a coma. She is currently enjoying her family’s company while resting at an undisclosed location. Valerie has been loving her time in Ogunquit and is looking forward to getting back on stage at the Ogunquit Playhouse.”
Harper, who earned a Tony nomination for her performance as Tallulah Bankhead in Looped, “has been sitting in Tallulah’s own dressing room under a photo of the actress from the days when she performed at the Ogunquit Playhouse,” according to the statement. Co-star Sally Struthers said in a separate statement: “Valerie is feeling better today. We have been friends for 43 years and shared an Emmy in 1972, and this is our first time working together. It’s an amazing blessing.”