The memory of the late Valerie Harper lived on during the season 28 premiere of Dancing With the Stars on Monday, September 16. The show honored the actress toward the end of the episode when a star with her name etched on the ballroom floor was unveiled.
The momento includes an image of a disco ball and “season 17,” a reference to when Harper appeared on the hit reality TV dancing competition. Alongside Harper’s star was one dedicated to Florence Henderson, the late Brady Bunch actress who competed on season 11 and died in November 2016 at age 82.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show alum died at age 80 in August. Harper’s daughter, Cristina Cacciotti, confirmed the news of her mom’s death on Twitter on behalf of the late actress’ husband, Tony Cacciotti.
“My dad has asked me to pass on this message: ‘My beautiful caring wife of nearly 40 years has passed away at 10:06am, after years of fighting cancer. She will never, ever be forgotten. Rest In Peace, mia Valeria. -Anthony,’” the message read.
Harper was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009. In 2013, she was given three months to live after she was diagnosed with a rare condition called leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, which cancer cells spread to the membranes surrounding the brain. Harper continued to fight for her life and even competed on DWTS with partner Tristan MacManus later that same year.
The former Broadway star was laid to rest on September 7 at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Elliott Gould, Frances Fisher, Connie Stevens, Joely Fisher and director James L. Brooks were among the celebrities in attendance at the funeral service.
“It was truly a beautiful day celebrating the life of Valerie Harper with family and close friends,” a family friend of Harper told Us of the intimate service. “It was a celebration. Guests were asked to wear colorful clothing — the color black was not allowed. Guests brought a single yellow rose to leave for Valerie at her grave. There were several speakers who told beautiful stories about Valerie and lots of memories shared about her life.”
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