Shelley Morrison, Rosario On 'Will & Grace,' Dies At 83

23 hours ago
Originally published on December 3, 2019 9:43 am
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NOEL KING, HOST:

If you are or were a fan of the TV show "Will & Grace," you remember Shelley Morrison. Morrison played Rosario, the feisty maid. She died on Sunday at the age of 83 after suffering from heart failure. NPR's Andrew Limbong has this appreciation.

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ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: Shelley Morrison's first appearance as Rosario on "Will & Grace" was in the finale of Season 1. She was the maid for Karen, played by Megan Mullally, and they had a loving - if contentious - relationship.

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SHELLEY MORRISON: (As Rosario) I work like a dog. It's not my fault that you and Mr. Stan are pigs. They're pigs.

MEGAN MULLALLY: (As Karen) I don't want to hear it Rosario.

(CROSSTALK)

MULLALLY: (As Karen) I'm nervous, Will. I can't live without Rosario.

(LAUGHTER)

LIMBONG: It was originally a guest spot that eventually grew to become a core part of the sitcom. "Will & Grace" helped increase LGBT visibility by having multiple queer characters front and center on primetime TV. Morrison's role was also written unapologetically. She was an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador who had to marry Sean Hayes' character, Jack, for citizenship.

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MORRISON: (As Rosario) All I want is my green card, not a party you have to clean up after.

(LAUGHTER)

LIMBONG: Shelley Morrison told "Entertainment Tonight" in 2013 that before she got the script for this episode, she was about to retire from acting. She was done with all the, quote, "garbage material" she was being offered. Then her agent faxed her this role.

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MORRISON: And I looked at it. And I said to my husband Walter - I said, honey, help me learn this. I connected immediately to Rosario.

LIMBONG: Shelley Morrison was born and raised in the Bronx. According to a biography sent from her publicist, her first language was Spanish and her parents were Spanish Jews. Morrison said that Rosario, quote, "reminds me a lot of my own mother, who loved animals and children, but she would not suffer fools."

Rosario was far from Morrison's first role. She had been working as an actress since the '60s, including on the Western TV show "Laredo," a bit part on "My Favorite Martian" and as Sister Sixto on "The Flying Nun." But she'll be remembered for her part as Rosario in "Will & Grace."

Andrew Limbong, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF JONATHAN WOLFF'S "WILL AND GRACE" THEME) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.