Review: I, Rhoda
Valerie Harper wanted to be an entertainer for as long as she can remember and her parents were encouraging and supportive – almost to the point of pushing her. She actually started as a dancer and did have some success in that role. When she landed a role as a dancer in a Broadway play, she was struck with the acting bug. Valerie got married and, for a while, she and her first husband lived paycheck to paycheck, often only having a few dollars to their names. They decided to move to California, and Valerie landed the role of a lifetime – Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show – and she played it to perfection. The character of Rhoda was spun off, so Valerie had a show of her own.
In her memoir, I, Rhoda, Valerie Harper shares her rise to fame in a groundbreaking role and her later battles with television, as well as the direction her career and life took after Rhoda left the air. She has gone on to other successes, including a Tony nomination, but will be most fondly remembered as Rhoda. She played the role so convincingly fans assumed she was Jewish and that she and co-star Julie Kavner were sisters in real life.
I enjoyed this book a great deal but didn’t love it. I think part of it was the book was different than I expected. I well remember Harper in her role as Rhoda and, because of the title, I assumed the book would focus on that and her interaction with her co-stars and, while Rhoda was certainly a big part of the book, it wasn’t the main part. A couple things bugged me – the fact that Harper felt it necessary to name every single person she worked with got old after a while, especially when I didn’t know who they were, and the fact that she loved everyone she met – it seemed they were all wonderful and gorgeous. I wasn’t looking for celebrity gossip, but it seemed unrealistic to me that everyone she encountered was so wonderful.
I listened to the audio version of I, Rhoda. It’s narrated by Valerie Harper and she does a great job. I doubt anyone could have done it better. The audio’s on 7 CDs and last approximately eight and a half hours. Fans of Valerie Harper are sure to enjoy this one!