The new cast of “Dancing with the Stars” was revealed on “GMA” on Sept. 4 and fans were shocked to hear Valerie Harper’s name. They were even more surprised to see her looking so happy and healthy sitting next to her new “DWTS” partner, Tristan MacManus. Back in March of 2013, Harper was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. On Wednesday, she revealed that she has brain scans every two months and stated that they are “looking better and better.” She added, “My doctors are delighted."
According to Hollywood Life, Valerie has leptomeningeal carcinometosis, a disease that strikes the membranes surrounding the brain. After her latest scan, her physician, neuro-oncologist Dr. Jeremy Rudnick said, “I’d say we are getting pretty close to remission. It defies the odds.”
So, why exactly did Valerie Harper decide to go all out and compete on “Dancing with the Stars”? The hours are tortuous and the workouts are grueling. “I feel much better, 74-year-old Harper told “People Magazine.” Harper went on to explain that she has been asked to do “DWTS” before, but she passed because of her fear of “messing up.” So, why did she say yes this time? “It might prove inspiring to people to see a 74-year-old woman with terminal cancer dancing,” she replied honestly and bravely.
- “Congrats on Dancing with the Stars. UR an inspiration!” – Wendy Williams
- “Great news about Valerie Harper! Such a tough, brave woman we all love!” – Jill Zarin from “The Real Housewives of New York City”
- “God bless her!” – Marie Grace Taylor
- “Good luck on Dancing with the Stars. I will be rooting and voting for you. Praying for continued improvement in your health.” – Patty Barany Foster
- “I am so glad you are feeling well. I might just have to watch that show for the first time just to support and send you love.” – Ellen Harris
- “Glad to hear your great news about your health. Wishing you all the best on Dancing with the Stars. I’ll be voting for you.” – Darlene Ryan
- “Valerie gives me courage that whatever life and destiny have in store for you, you always keep a foot forward and never step back.” – Paula Decourcey-Carvalho
Making people laugh is only one facet of Valerie Harper’s career, which extends from stage to television and feature films. She began her career as a dancer with the corps de ballet at Radio City Music Hall, but gradually moved into acting. After acting in four different Broadway shows, Harper landed the role of Rhoda on “The Mary Tyler Show” (1970-1974) and the spin-off series “Rhoda” (1974-1978). For her portrayal of Rhoda Morgenstern, she won four Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe. In 2000, Harper and Moore reunited in “Mary and Rhoda,” a TV movie that brought their iconic characters back to life. Although Valerie Harper mainly focused on Broadway and television, she had key supporting roles in the feature films “Freebie and the Bean” and “Blame It on Rio.”
From 2005-2006, Harper played Golda Meir in a U.S. national tour of the one-woman drama “Golda’s Balcony.” She also appeared in stage productions of “Looped” and others. She remains active in the Screen Actors Guild and even ran for president in 2001, but was defeated by Melissa Gilbert.
Valerie’s pro dance partner on “Dancing with the Stars” is lovable Tristan MacManus. He has been partnered in the past with Dorothy Hamill, Nancy Grace, Gladys Knight, and Pamela Anderson. Tristan hails from Ireland and began dancing at an early age. He eventually won numerous Juvenile, Junior and Amateur competitions around Europe.
MacManus appeared in “Ella Enchanted” and performed in theater productions throughout Ireland, including “Oliver” and “Aladdin.” He joined the UK tour of “Simply Ballroom” and toured the world with “Burn the Floor.” Tristan made his first appearance on “DWTS” as part of the Troupe during season 12. He joined the cast in season 13 and was paired with Nancy Grace. They came in fifth place. Last season, his partner, Dorothy Hamill, had to drop out of the competition due to health issues.
“Dancing with the Stars” premieres at 8 p.m. EST on Monday, Sept. 16 on ABC. During last season's finale, Kellie Pickler defeated Ally Raisman, Jacoby Jones and Zendaya to win the mirror ball trophy.
To watch Wednesday’s big “DWTS” cast reveal on “Good Morning America,” check out the video above and to the left.
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