The actress known for her role as Rosario Salazar on NBC’s “Will & Grace” died at the age of 83, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019.
Shelley Morrison died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles from heart failure. According to her publicist Lori De Waal, she died after a brief illness.
On the first run of “Will & Grace” from 1999 to 2006, Morrison played the maid from El Salvador. She became a part of the cast who won a Screen Actors Guild award for best ensemble in a comedy series.
The character was originally written for one episode, however, the character proved to be so popular in her interactions with Megan Mullally that she appeared in 68 episodes during the eight seasons.
“Rosario is one of my all-time favorite characters. 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 recently stated, according to a statement and biography announcing her death.
Mullally, who played Morrison’s boss Karen Walker, praised the actress on Twitter.
“My heart is heavy. Putting shelley, her beloved husband walter & their children in the light. Thank you for your friendship & partnership, shell. You accomplished wonderful things in this world. You will be missed.”
Eric McCormack, who starred at Will on the show, recalled Morrison as a “beautiful soul” on Twitter. “Her work as Rosario, season after season, was as nuanced and real as it was hysterical.”
Grace on the sitcom, Debra Messing tweeted: “Oh, Shelley… what a loss. Our dear Rosario has passed on. Shelley had a career that spanned decades, but she will always be our dear Rosie. All my love to Walter and the entire family.”
Sean Hayes played Jack McFarland on the show. He wrote an Instagram post saying Morrison was “absolutely hilarious and had the biggest heart.”
Morrison’s husband, Walter Dominguez, said she appreciated the opportunity to play a strong Latina, but she also valued “Will & Grace” for their breakthrough television depiction of gay characters.
“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. …She believed that the best way to change hearts and minds was through comedy.”
Before “Will & Grace,” Morrison was best known for her more than 50-year acting career for playing Sister Sixto on “The Flying Nun” alongside Sally Field from 1967 to 1970.
In the 1960s, Morrison guest-starred on multiple television shows including “The Fugitive,” “L.A. Law,” and “Murder She Wrote.” Recently, she voiced the character of Mrs. Portillo, on the Disney animated show, “Handy Manny.”
Morrison was born Rachel Mitrani to Jewish parents from Spain. She was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1936. As a child, Morrison primarily spoke Spanish. She was often cast as Latina characters; however, she played a range of ethnicities in theater, TV, and film.
She appeared with Dean Martin in the 1968 film, “How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life.” That same year, she played with Barbara Streisand in “Funny Girl.” In 1969, she played with Gregory Peck in “Mackenna’s Gold,” with Shelley Long in “Troop Beverly Hills,” and in 1989 with Salma Hayek in “Fools Rush In.”
By Jeanette Vietti
Fox News: ‘Will & Grace’ actress Shelley Morrison dead at 83, remembered by co-stars
The New York Times: Shelley Morrison, ‘Will & Grace’ Actress, Dies at 83
Page Six: ‘Will & Grace’ stars remember Shelley Morrison, who played Rosario
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