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I, Rhoda

by Valerie Harper

As Mary Richards's lovable and self-deprecating best friend Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Valerie Harper, too, turned the world on with her smile. Viewers could relate to Rhoda, native New Yorker and struggling working girl, who was unlucky in love and insecure about her weight but who always kept her sense of humor. Valerie was an unknown actress when she won the part that made her famous, and by the time Rhoda, her popular spin-off show, ended, she had won four Emmys and a Golden Globe. The role was groundbreaking. On-screen, she represented a self-reliant new identity for women of the 1970s while off-screen she fought alongside feminists Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug for equal rights, among other issues that were important to her. Valerie's showbiz journey has taken her from Broadway, where she performed as a dancer and eventually found herself onstage with Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason, to Hollywood, where she went down in history as one of television's best-loved characters, and back to the Great White Way, where she recently won a Tony Award nomination for her critically acclaimed role as Tallulah Bankhead. Her inspiring story is laced with triumphs and a few transformative obstacles along the way, but she remains upbeat and funny throughout, always confident that no matter what, she's going to make it after all.

Today I Am a Ma'am

by Valerie Harper

Valerie Harper has a message for women of a certain age: "Work those laugh lines!" With the irreverence and wit that made her one of television's most beloved personalities, Harper (a. k. a. Rhoda Morgenstern) takes on those phony "fabulous at 50" books written by women whose skin is free of laugh lines and who wouldn't know a cellulite pocket if it bit them on the backside. With her trademark shoot-from-the-hip, call-'em-like-she-sees-'em style, she helps women celebrate, with humor and grace, what it means to be middle aged. Harper's essays explore the treacherous terrain women must travel -- from the tyrannies of fashion to the unmentionables of menopause. She tackles the most perplexing questions of the day: If you wear a size zero, do you exist? Would menopause be revered if it happened to men? Do calories count if you eat standing up? Are dressing rooms fitted with fun house mirrors? Today I Am a Ma'am is the perfect antidote to the youth obsession of our culture, offered by America's most reliable girlfriend. It is Humor Replacement Therapy for midlife women, a book you can pick up when ever you need a laugh or a reminder that midriff drift is not the end of the world.

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