Early last week I was on my way to school, and as the cool morning air put a chill through me, these were the words that rang in my head: "Eventually I ran to Minneapolis, where it's cold, and I figured I'd keep better." These words came from the opening of the television show "Rhoda," of which I was a loyal viewer for all five of its seasons. It helped that I was already a fan of the character from her stint on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," where she served as the "chubby" sidekick to the whisper-thin Mary. I never understood this distinction, even though the producers felt inclined to dress Rhoda in baggy sweatshirts from time to time. No matter. I found Mary's best friend to be every bit as entertaining as Mary, and a fine counterpoint to the sweetness and light that often spewed from Miss Richards.
I will always remember listening to the guys on ABC's Monday Night Football complain that they had to miss Rhoda getting married, since they were on opposite her CBS sit-com. It was a television event that briefly eclipsed both football and the birth of "little Ricky." I watched as Rhoda's sister, played by Julie Kavner who later became the voice of Marge Simpson, navigated her own romantic course, briefly hooking up with Nick Lobo. If you don't recognize this accordion-playing sleaze, you may remember him better as Ann Romano's polite squeeze on "One Day At A Time," Richard Masur.
All of this swirled in my head as I learned that Valerie Harper has terminal brain cancer. Bonnie Franklin, who played Ann Romano, passed on right about that same day from pancreatic cancer. Maybe I should move to Minneapolis.