C.J.: Valerie Harper was a sweetie during 2002 visit to Minnesota

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 6, 2013 - 11:36 PM

Tiger Woods: Showing signs of change and improvement.

Valerie Harper has told People magazine she has terminal brain cancer.

If Harper’s time is short (and everybody’s is), this is truly another case of the good dying young.

When Harper was here in 2002 performing in “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” at the Ordway in St. Paul, she let me tag along as her limo delivered her to the Kenwood residence that was the façade for the home where Rhoda, Mary and Phyllis lived on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

You know how some celebrities (Prince) can be disrespectful, dismissive pains in the butt? Harper was not. Upon hearing the tough news about her diagnosis, I remembered how she had been quite lovely and just plain regular during our time together. I wrote as much at the time, describing Harper as being genuinely unaffected by all this celebrity stuff.

Since flinging the hat in the air was Mary Richards’ thing, Harper did something else for my photo out in front of that house. She tried to fling her scarf around her neck, but it wasn’t easy because the wind kept causing it to blow where she didn’t want it.

My Oct. 6, 2002, item also recounted Harper’s reaction to seeing that other landmark, the Mary Richards statue, on Nicollet Mall.

“Oh, it was charming to see,” she said. “I didn’t know that it would be all bronze and it would be sooooo in the period. I guess they replicated what she was wearing that day?

“I do remember the boots, the 1970s coat. They got her spirit, her big smile. I like its leanness. It looks like her. I think it’s wonderful. I guess I thought it would be bigger.” I told Harper that the Hubert Humphrey statue at Minneapolis City Hall was even smaller.

And would she like to be so remembered?

“I don’t need a statue,” Harper told me. “I think Mary’s statue is what’s appropriate here. There were a lot of us on the show; it would get too crowded. She stands for what the show was.”

And you, Valerie “Rhoda” Harper, stand right alongside her.

A second chance

Elin and Tiger, the marital mulligan, is reportedly in the works, according to various websites.

If accurate, I think Tiger Woods’ paying the slightest attention to Minnesota-born Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn helped reawaken Elin Nordegren’s affections. Easier to let a Tiger back into your life than to have to deal with a new wife, eh?

Before Vonn ripped up her knee competing in Austria, there had been reports of a romance between her and Woods. Neither confirmed it, and Vonn told NBC she wanted to keep her personal life private. Based on what I’ve heard about the few days Vonn spent on Lake Minnetonka last summer with NBAer Kris Humphries, she sounded serious about pairing up again with somebody high-profile, even before her divorce was final.

There was photographic evidence of a woman on crutches boarding a plane that TMZ said Woods had sent to Austria to fly Vonn back home to Colorado. But a couple of weeks later, Woods, his ex-wife and their two small kids were seen at a youth sports event in Florida. It was, according to the L.A. Times, one of the first times they’ve been together in public since their messy 2009 Thanksgiving weekend spat.

That highly publicized incident led to confirmation of National Enquirer reports of Woods’ rampant extramarital affairs, which led to Elin’s separation from Tiger and ultimately a divorce.

But painful memories can dim in four years. In that time, Woods has not appeared to be serious about the women reportedly passing through his life at a time when his two kids have been with their mom, who is still his first love.

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