It’s recently started to embarrass me how far in advance I have men scheduled while I end up spending Saturdays and Sundays thinking, “Great, what woman am I going to write about for today?” And then I end up seeing that women have died and thought, “Oh, man, I should’ve gotten to her!” Especially since Valerie Harper was given months to live in January 2013; that should’ve bumped her to the top of the list, and I have to admit she wasn’t actually on it. That’s on me. So I’d like to make a concerted effort, now, to bulk up how many women are on the lists, because I’m not doing right by a lot of them.
Honestly, though, I feel as though quite a lot of people missed out on Valerie Harper. I’m not sure I’ve seen more than an episode or two of Rhoda, though I did finally watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show all the way through, back when I was on “M” in The Great Library Project; it’s one of the shows that made me limit myself to putting a single season of a show on hold at a time, actually, along with M*A*S*H. But I don’t feel as though I know enough about her career, and I’m a bit sorry about that. Her appearance on The Muppet Show alone was enough to convince me she was a great talent.
She’s also got some pretty great quotes on her IMDb page; she seems to have been a fairly matter-of-fact person in a lot of ways. I kind of want to read I, Rhoda now; I’ve got a weakness for celebrity memoirs at the best of times—some of them are really good, and if I ever wrap up Disney Byways, I might move on to a series on those—and if it’s written in the same sort of voice of the quotes on the page, that’d be a fun book. Though I’d feel desperately like Buddy Cole while I read it, even if I’m not sure that was actually his desert island book in the fantasy sequence where he’s with Dave Foley as Oscar Wilde.
Maybe part of the problem is the whole Women Aren’t Funny thing; it’s a pervasive belief that has, in my opinion, damaged the careers of some really funny women. Because Valerie Harper coule be really funny. Honestly, she’s a lot funnier to me than a lot of really famous male comedians. Including ones with whom she worked. She was also a dancer, and not a bad singer; she got her start on the stage. She had the sort of career that should be talked about more, and she basically isn’t. Which is why she wasn’t on the list, of course.
I’m not always okay with being the Solute’s token obituarist, given how often people seem to die on days when I’ve got a ton of other things to do. (So inconsiderate of them!) “Okay, I’m going to do laundry and make the kids breakfast and write three articles and—oh, Valerie Harper died. Well, I know what I’m doing first!” (Yes, the kids’ breakfast is next!) On the other hand, it does mean that I get around to writing about people I’d never really thought about before, people who should’ve been on the list ages before. Especially when they were diagnosed with lung cancer ten years ago.