Valerie Harper’s daughter paid emotional tribute to her late mother at a funeral service on Saturday, September 7. The Rhoda actress, who died at age 80 on August 30, was laid to rest at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, as PEOPLE reported. Director James L. Brooks, actor Elliott Gould and actress Frances Fisher were some of the guests who came to pay their last respects.
The star’s only child, Cristina Cacciotti, reportedly made a loving and funny speech about her mom’s toughness during her cancer battle. “I don’t have balls, I have steel ovaries,” Cristina remembered her mother saying. Other speakers recalled Harper’s lifelong acts of charity and political activism. The Mary Tyler Moore Show star, who later got her own sitcom spinoff from 1974-78, suffered through years of health problems, including leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, lung cancer and brain cancer. A source told RadarOnline.com that Harper had to hide away during the end of her cancer struggle. She grappled for years with two separate cancer diagnoses, lung cancer in 2009 and then brain cancer in 2013.
But her devoted husband Tony Cacciotti, whom she married in 1987, was right by her side the whole way. Towards the end, “Valerie’s husband was looking into hospice care at his home with Valerie so she wouldn’t be out of his sight,” an insider told Radar. During that difficult time, her devoted spouse “has been so focused on her that he hasn’t wanted to talk to anyone. He just literally spent all his time and energy focused on her.”
According to the source, Harper sunk $3 million into miracle cancer cures to try and stay alive.
Following the news of her death, Harper’s daughter Christina had shared a message on behalf of her father Tony. “My dad has asked me to pass on this message: ‘My beautiful caring wife of nearly 40 years has passed away at 10:06 a.m., after years of fighting cancer,’” Cristina wrote on Twitter. “She will never, ever be forgotten. Rest In Peace, mia Valeria. — Anthony.”
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