The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

April 6, 2013

For Harper, love's still all around

MICHAEL CIDONI LENNOX
Associated Press

---- — LOS ANGELES (AP) — It turns out “The Last Show” wasn’t the last, after all.

Just around the corner from the intersection of Mary Tyler Moore Avenue and Newhart Street at CBS Studio Center, actress Mary Tyler Moore and some of her former colleagues gathered Thursday afternoon for a press conference to discuss their first sitcom appearance together since “The Last Show,” the title of the 1977 series finale of the groundbreaking “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Moore, Cloris Leachman, Betty White, Georgia Engel and the ailing Valerie Harper reunited this week to tape an episode of White’s hit TV Land comedy, “Hot in Cleveland.”

On “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Harper played the free-spirited best friend Rhoda Morgenstern opposite Moore’s prim Mary Richards.

Harper, 73, wondered if the group had come together again because of her recent diagnosis with terminal brain cancer.

“Do you guys think this was part of my condition?” asked Harper.

“Oh, yes. I do,” replied co-star Leachman, who portrayed Mary and Rhoda’s snooty apartment-building manager, Phyllis Lindstrom. “They had the idea and they wrote this amazing script,” Leachman continued. “We’re just almost in tears, we’re so thrilled.”

Harper recently told the “Today” show that in January she was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer and told she had three months to live. But, on this day, Harper was robust. “I’m kind of symptomless for this particular condition, so we’re just going to see,” she explained.

Harper said this reunion has been more about laughter than tears, in spite of her diagnosis. “And the tears come up, but they’re part of the laughter,” she noted.