Dancing with the Stars Season 17 Contestant Valerie Harper Passes Away at 80

The great thing about having DWTS around for so many seasons is that we grow attached to so many celebs that have done the show.  The sad thing about DWTS being around so long is that those celebs continue to age…and inevitably, we lose some 🙁 Such is the case with season 17 contestant Valerie Harper, who passed away today at the age of 80 after a courageous battle with cancer, per Yahoo:

Valerie Harper — best known as Rhoda Morgenstern, the feisty, scarf-wearing best friend of Mary Richards in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off, Rhoda — has died, eight days after her 80th birthday.

Harper’s daughter, Cristina Cacciotti, confirmed the news on Twitter. The actress passed away at 10:06 a.m. Friday “after years of fighting cancer,” but the family did not immediately disclose her cause of death.

Asked in a 2007 interview what she’d want on her tombstone, Harper answered, “‘She was in the game.’ I love to inspire people. I’d like to be remembered in a way that they would take action. I love to get people moving [to better themselves]. I’d like to be remembered for energy. Pulling people on the dance floor!”

And pull us onto the dance floor,  she did – I loved how her philosophy on her season of DWTS was all about “living in the moment” despite her terminal diagnosis, and how she continued to defy the odds with her resilience and kept on living life to the fullest. She really did “carry on”…

Valerie is the second DWTS contestant to leave us, after season 11’s Florence Henderson passed in late 2016. Here’s hoping Valerie gets a commemorative star on the DWTS floor just like Flo’s 🙂 Sending love and prayers to Valerie’s friends, family, and fans during this difficult time.