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4.3 out of 5 stars
I, Rhoda
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I didn't hear about the bio I, Rhoda by Valerie Harper through friends or articles or ads anywhere. I actually happened to pass The Jeff Probst talk show one night in January while surfing through channels and saw Jeff interviewing Valerie Harper. It was the first interview I'd seen Harper give in a long time and I was amazed at how young she looked. I was also amazed at how well the interview went and I've become a fan of Jeff Probst's show as a result.

I hadn't planned on reading anymore bios, autobios, or memoirs at that particular time, but as a long time fan of Valerie (and Rhoda) I bought the digital book on Kindle anyway. I know they are advertising this as a memoir, but I thought it was more biography than memoir. I've always thought of memoir as being a certain isolated segment of a person's life. But this book covered Valerie's life from the beginning up until the time she was nominated for a Tony award on Broadway. And that was NOT a disappointment by any means. I'm glad it was more biography because I discovered things about Valerie I never knew...like where she grew up, where she studied, what it was like to work with people like Lucille Ball on Broadway when Ball did the show, Wildcat. So you're getting a lot more with this book than what you might think you are getting from the way it's been promoted in some places.

The beginning of the book seems to build up to a pivotal point in Valerie's life: when she landed the part of Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Everything that leads up to this point is well-crafted, moves at a nice pace, and it shows how hard Valerie worked to get there. And it really does show; it doesn't just tell...which made it a much nicer...smoother...read than a lot of non-fiction I see nowadays.

In the sections of the book where Valerie discusses playing Rhoda, she talks about her relationships with other cast members, her relationship with Mary Tyler Moore, her relationships with staff and crew, and also her personal relationships. But there's nothing too dishy or gossipy about any of this. And that's because I have never heard anyone, anywhere, trash anything about The Mary Tyler Moore Show. They were hard working people who loved what they did and didn't spend their free time looking for attention. From everything I've heard and read and seen, the people who were associated with that show did get along, did love every minute of what they did, and they focused on their craft the entire time. This is also a huge part of the book: Valerie's work ethic. She wasn't just a star. She was a working actress, a business woman, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, and an artist. I don't think I saw the word feminism in this book once, but she's a good example of what feminism is all about.

After a great run as Rhoda, both on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and on her own sitcom, Rhoda, Valerie winds down this section of the book with bittersweet comments about how lucky she was to have had this experience and how thankful she was to have been part of something so wonderful. You really feel her gratitude and the love she had for the character of Rhoda. But it doesn't end there, Valerie then moves the reader forward with the rest of her life and talks about how she moves forward as an actress, an artist, and a woman.

I found the section about her experiences with the TV sitcom in the 80's, Valerie, honest and up front. I do remember that show well, and I was a huge fan of it. I'd read a lot about the dispute between Valerie and the producers, but never actually heard Valerie's point of view about what happened and how she wound up leaving a show with her own name on it. And after reading this book I have a better understanding about what happened and how it affected Valerie, too. As a side note, I'd like to add one thing to this that Valerie didn't mention in the book because she's far too nice a person. Whenever there's a hit TV show and producers don't want to pay the star more...or even negotiate for better terms...it never ends well for the TV show itself. Think Delta Burke in Designing Women...or Suzanne Somers in Three's Company. They were all different circumstances, and yet the end result turned out the same for each TV show. Once the main star leaves the show fails. I stopped watching Valerie the moment Valerie Harper wasn't on anymore. The revised show, The Hogan Family, wasn't entertaining. I also stopped watching Designing Women the moment Delta Burke wasn't on anymore. And that's just the way it is. Stars like Valerie Harper have that extra special thing that can't be replaced no matter how hard producers try. Some things in life just can't be replaced or duplicated.

In any event, I was just finishing the book when I learned about Valerie's recent cancer diagnosis. I was right at the part where she had to battle lung cancer in 2009, and I was marveling at how brave she was and how well she handled it. For Valerie to come through that ordeal seemed like such a happy ending for a bio, and then I heard about the most recent brain cancer she's now just beginning to deal with. From what I've read so far, she's dealing with this cancer just like she's handled all the things I read about her life in this book, with strength, pragmatism, honesty, and love. I think that's what I liked most about the book, all the love I read between the lines. It's truly a book about an honorable life well lived and loved, from beginning to end. And I would recommend it to anyone without thinking twice.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Few people in the entertainment field can be so directly related to one, particular character that many celebs are afraid of this dubious honor. Vivian Vance (who appeared on RHODA) was one who constantly warned, "Use you real first name" as people always thought of her as Ethel from "I Love Lucy".

But Ms. Harper has managed to embellish the direct relationship between herself and Rhoda Morgenstern without any regrets. Nor has it hampered the woman. Having enjoyed her on both The Mary Tyler Moore show and Rhoda, it was with more than a dollop of surprise that I was fascinated with her portrayal of Tallulah Bankhead in LOOPED during its all-too-brief run on Broadway.

In I, RHOADA, Valerie Harper tells the story of her life. There are no regrets, bad mouthing or slanderous chapters here. It is told in an honest, upfront and highly amusing way.

This is a hugely entertaining read that follows the woman from childhood, through dance and ballet classes, Broadway, a bit part in a movie or two and then straight up to The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Storybook Theater with Paul Sills.

But this is also the tale of another side of Ms. Harper - the ultimate humanitarian. Without being preachy, she details the importance of getting involved in social issues - and she leads by example. Not only is she an Emmy winning actress but also somebody who has set her sights on saving the planet and the people on it. Read the book and you will be sure that such a wonderful, determined, warm and passionate person as Ms. Harper can certainly do that. And more.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Loved The Mary Tyler Moore show and hanging out with Mary and Rhoda once a week. I loved I, Rhoda by Valerie Harper. I could not put the book down and finished it in 2 days. If you are a Rhoda fan, you will love this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I loved the journey......every aspect of it ! Poignant and honest portrayal.
Go Valerie !....you make us all proud ! You remained true to yourself in a crazy world !
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I am a new fan to the Mary Tyler Moore/Rhoda world, as I wouldn't be born for 10 years when Rhoda went off the air. This book made me feel like I was right there with miss Valerie Harper and that is a feeling I can appreciate. I'm just sad I can't see looped or Mary and Rhoda! Miss Harper you have a lifelong fan in me. Thank you for writing this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Valerie Harper, in this auto-biographical/memoir style book writes candidly and practically about her life -from when she was a little girl who loved to try new things, work hard, make friends... all the way through her career as a dancer, actress, her successes, obstacles... friendships, marriage, community and activism, her cancer diagnosis in 2009, and family stories. She sprinkles in compelling, touching and funny anecdotes, opinions, and points of view - always with honesty, realism and humility. The book is a great read for anyone who has been a fan of the Rhoda and/or Mary Tyler Moore shows, or even for those who enjoy reading first-person inspirational stories.

As a long time fan of Valerie Harper in her role as Rhoda and a person in general (from what I've read in the media), I found this book to be confirming of things I already knew about her, as well as enriching me with more delightful, entertaining, and uplifting stories and information. Valerie is a "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" kind of person. She is good-hearted, upbeat, positive, cute, funny, warm, and strong. Her story conveys passion, optimism and warmth from the beginning till the end.

One thing unique about Valerie that I noticed is that she has a mix of old-fashioned values of discretion, wisdom and family closeness, combined with an open-minded way of learning and being open to new ways of doing things. Valerie stays away from pettiness and seems to really grasp the important things in life which are love, loyalty and integrity, among other things. She shows her human side in the book without divulging overly private matters, something I really respect in her. And readers who are discerning and know how to read between the lines, can and will sense in Valerie a most insightful individual with lots of depth and insight, even through the seemingly chatty writer's voice and friendly anecdotes.

The book is highly detailed on the one hand - discussing how she made friends, how she got her jobs, who she appreciates, how she achieved her goals, and some obstacles along the way - while appropriately non-gossipy, on the other hand. It sheds light on her attitudes and experiences in a way that is inspiration without being cliche.

Knowing that Valerie - after the publishing of the book - has been diagnosed with a serious illness, and still is constantly upbeat only reinforces the underlying tone and message of the book. Overall, I highly recommend the book to anyone who is a fan of the Rhoda show, or simply wants to read a story about a celebrity - a human being - who is a class act, passionate, funny and real.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I purchased this book before the actress disclosed the sad news of her brain cancer. I have enoyed this actress' long lasting career from the Mary Tyler Moore show to Rhoda to Valerie and all of her guest appearances and television movies. She shares her life and is a class act!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Thanks for sharing your memories; I wish I'd been able to meet you. I'm sorry about your latest challenge. I commend you for sharing with all of us. Love you Val.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I fell in love with the character Rhoda Morgenstern and the actress who played her. I watched every episode of "Rhoda" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and was so excited with the possibility of a show called, "Mary & Rhoda." I have also watched every tv series that Valerie has done as well as seeing her in Boston in the play, "Tales of the Allergist's Wife." Valerie is a phenomenal actress. This book revealed Valerie's back story and her life in general. I wish that she had gone into more detail with behind the scenes stories of MTM and Rhoda. Still this book was entertaining and revealing. Valerie Harper is great human being.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I was looking forward to reading this book after seeing Ms. Harper interviewed in regard to it, and it did not disappoint; I read the entire book within a week! It was interesting to learn about her 'early years'- before she achieved her stardom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the Rhoda show. In addition, it was refreshing to read a book that was written in an honest and matter-of-fact style, without using profanity, or resorting to "gossipy" details about other actors and actresses! I highly recommend this book, especially if you- as did I- grew up watching all of the terrific shows that were a product of the '70's!
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