Valerie Harper to Join TV Movie Cast Months After Cancer Diagnosis


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Just five months after revealing to People magazine she has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, Valerie Harper is going to work on a TV movie.

Harper, who was diagnosed in January with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition that occurs when cancer cells spread into the fluid-filled membrane surrounding the brain, will be joining the cast of The Town That Came A-Courtin'.

The actress joins Lauren Holly, Cameron Bancroft and Lucie Guest for production in Vancouver. The movie is based on the book of the same name by author Ronda Rich, which centers around Abby Houston, an author who finds love in a small town on her book tour. Harper's character owns a B&B in that town and helps the main character find love with the town's mayor.

The movie will premeire in January 2014 on the UP (Uplifting Entertainment) Channel.

Senior Vice President for Original Programming at UP, Barbara Fisher, said: “UP is thrilled to have the always inspirational Valerie Harper as part of our talented the Town That Came A-Courtin’ cast… The uplifting, sometimes bumpy romance showcases how a community’s spirit and good will can help people connect and find each other.”

Though Harper is battling an incurable disease, she isn't letting it stand in the way of her work, or her humor. In her interview with People magazine, she said, "Cancer makes real what we try to obscure from ourselves. We spend our lifetimes thinking, 'I'm never going to die.' But cancer says, 'Hey, not so fast.' "

Most recently, Harper shot an episode of Hot in Cleveland which will air in September on TV Land. The episode is a reunion for The Mary Tyler Moore Show cast, and will feature Harper, Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore, Cloris Leachman, and Georgia Engel.

The actress gained notoriety after playing Rhoda Morgenstern in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and continued to play the fan favorite in the spin-off, Rhoda. She won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for The Mary Tyler Moore Show three years in a row (1971 - 1973). She also won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, as well as the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy, for Rhoda in 1975.