Valerie Harper was born in Suffern, N.Y. on August 22, 1940. She began her show-business career as a dancer at Radio City Music Hall. While in New York City, Harper also appeared in several Broadway productions before moving to Chicago to work with the improvisational theater group Second City. Her big break in TV came with her role as Rhoda Morgenstern, Mary's best friend on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1970. Her portrayal of a New Yorker in Minneapolis garnered three Emmy Awards and led to the spin-off series Rhoda in 1974. The role of Rhoda, now back in New York City and at long last married (but then divorced) won Harper a fourth Emmy in 1975.
After Rhoda, Harper enjoyed a steady stream of acclaimed TV work. She had notable guest-star turns on shows such as The Love Boat, Melrose Place and Touched By an Angel, and starred in several sitcoms including Valerie's Family (a.k.a. The Hogan Family). She also appeared in numerous made-for-TV movies and even a few big-screen features such as Chapter Two and Blame it on Rio.
Harper continued to work steadily today, having appeared on That '70s Show, Sex and the City and 'Til Death. She currently serves on the national board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and has returned to the stage for several roles.