06 March 2013

Today's news about Valerie Harper’s inoperable brain cancer made me very sad. The diagnosis itself is, of course, horrible, but there’s some magical link that we keep with those people who came into our living rooms every week though television when we're very little.

First, she was there via “Mary Tyler Moore Show” and, later, “Rhoda.”  On “Mary Tyler Moore” she was a little schlumpfy (although in reality, she was probably a size 6 at most) and a bit of a neurotic mess. By the time she got her own show, she was sleek and lean and pretending to still be a mess, but she’d landed a great husband and she was thin... I wasn’t buying it.  The role of the messy girl got passed on to her whining younger sister, Brenda (now Marge Simpson). I was much more a fan of Rhoda on the former show.

What I remember from both series was her impeccable comedic timing. She had a great way of waiting just a tiny beat before she’d deliver a line that would make me laugh out loud. I don’t remember the name of the  women who played her mother, but for a Christian girl in the south, my first exposure to a New York Jewish family, even one played as broadly as this, was a refreshing blast. 

Today’s $10 goes to Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure. ABC2 (as it's nicknamed) was co-founded by Dan Case and his brother, former AOL chairman Steve Case, after Dan was diagnosed with brain cancer. ABC2 partners with entrepreneurs, scientists, and researchers to fight for a cure and to speed up the drug discovery process. Sadly, Dan lost his battle, but in the 12 years since its founding,  ABC2 has raised more than $16 million for research.

From what I’ve read today, Harper is undergoing chemotherapy, but has been told that she may have only a few months left. I wish her well.

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