Actress Shelley Morrison died on Sunday at Cedars Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles from heart failure, her husband has confirmed.
Morrison’s’ acting career spanned 64 years with roles in theatre, movies and TV, but she was best known for playing memorable character Rosario in the TV sitcom Will and Grace.
Morrison had retired when the series of Will and Grace was rebooted in 2017 and chose not to return to play her iconic character of Rosario Salzar, maid of Karen Walker.
“My heart is heavy,” actress Megan Mullaly, who plays Karen Walker, said on Twitter, “Thank you for your friendship and partnership … You accomplished wonderful things in this world. You will be missed.”
“Shelley’s greatest pride as an actress was in playing the indomitable Rosario in a comedy series that furthered the cause of social equity and fairness for LGBTQ people,” Morrison’s husband Walter Dominguez said in his statement.
“She also took pride in portraying a strong, loving yet feisty Latina character in a comedy series that furthered the cause of social equity and fairness for LGBTQ people. She believed that the best way to change hearts and minds was through comedy.”
Morrison was the daughter of Spanish immigrants who lived New York City and primarily spoke Spanish as a child, she came to national fame as the English language-mangling Puerto Rican nun Sister Sixto on The Flying Nun.
“Shelley was a beautiful soul and a wonderful actor,” Eric McCormack said on Twitter, “Her work as Rosario, season after season, was as nuanced and real as it was hysterical. She will be missed by everyone.”
“What a loss,” Debra Messing said on Instagram, “Shelley had a career that spanned decades, but she will always be our dear Rosie. She was a kind soul with a huge heart and always had a smile on her face.”
In her biography, Morrison wrote that Rosario was one of her all-time favourite characters to play. “She reminds me a lot of my own mother, who loved animals and children, but she would not suffer fools. It is very significant to me that we were able to show an older, Hispanic woman who is bright and smart and can hold her own.”
Morrison had battled health problems and was a breast and lung cancer survivor, and although she had retired from acting, we will always be grateful for the laughter and joy she gave us through her craft.