Shelley Morrison, a veteran actress best known for portraying Rosario Salazar on Will & Grace, died Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
She was 83 years old.
According to her publicist, via The Associated Press, Morrison passed away from from heart failure after a brief illness.
From 1999 through 2006, Morrison starred in 68 episodes of the aforementioned NBC sitcom, making viewers crack up by mostly playing opposite Megan Mullally’s Karen Walker as her longtime maid and confidant.
“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 also took pride in portraying a strong, loving yet feisty Latina character,” her husband of 46 years, Walter Dominguez, said yesterday in a statement.
The character was originally written to appear in just a single episode… but Morrison proved so popular in her interactions Mullally that producers kept her around for eight seasons.
Rosario did not, however, have a role in the ongoing revival of the program.
“Rosario is one of my all-time favorite characters,” Morrison said recently, according to a statement and biography announcing her death, adding:
“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.”
The actress also enjoed featured roles in the late 1960s television show The Flying Nun with Sally Field, along with Disney’s animated series Handy Manny as Mrs. Portillo.
Her last acting credit is voice work on the 2012 animated film Foodfight!
But it’s Will & Grace that will forever be at the top of Morrison’s resume, as multiple leads from that sitcom have spoken out on the wake of her passing.
“Shelley was a beautiful soul & a wonderful actor,” Tweeted Eric McCormack, continuing as follows:
“Her work as Rosario, season after season, was as nuanced and real as it was hysterical.
“She will be missed by everyone at #WillandGrace, she’s a huge part of it. Sending so much love to Walter and Shelley’s whole family. #Rosario.”
Debra Messing also honored Morrison on Instagram.
“Oh, Shelley… what a loss,” she wrote.
“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. #shelleymorrison.”
Mullally, meanwhile, tweeted that her “heart is heavy” following news of Morrison’s death.
“Just got a bulletin on my phone that shelley morrison has passed,” she wrote.
“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.”
Then there was Sean Hayes, expressed his condolences on Instagram:
“Such sad news. Our beloved Shelley Morrison passed away today. She was absolutely hilarious and had the biggest heart.
“She was a part of our Will and Grace family and will be greatly missed. My heart goes out to her entire family.”
In August 2017, Will & Grace co-creator Max Mutchnick confirmed Morrison would not be participating in the series’ revival, which wraps up this spring.
“Shelley has decided to retire,” he told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, adding at the time:
“It was with a heavy heart that she gave us that information and that we received it, but it is the way that it goes. It is a choice that she has made.
“We really wanted Shelley to be a part of this series, so we find ourselves having to figure that out moving forward. It was not an easy decision to make, but it’s one that she made.”
May Shelley Morrison rest in peace.
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