Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) (1970–74), is Mary's best friend and upstairs neighbor. She is outgoing and sardonic, often making wisecracks, frequently at her own expense. Like Mary, she is single. She dates frequently, often joking about her disastrous dates. After four years, Rhoda moves back to New York for the spinoff series Rhoda. Rhoda Morgenstern, portrayed by Valerie Harper, is a character on the television sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show and subsequent spin-off Rhoda.
The original opening of the series Rhoda establishes that Rhoda Faye Morgenstern was born in the Bronx, New York, in December of 1941. She is the daughter of Ida and Martin Morgenstern (Nancy Walker and Harold Gould), and grew up in New York before moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota sometime in the late 1960s. On The Mary Tyler Moore Show Rhoda had a sister named Debbie (Liberty Williams) seen in one episode, and a briefly-mentioned brother named Arnold; they were retconned out of existence when the character got her own series. On Rhoda, Rhoda's only sibling was a younger sister named Brenda.
Relocating from New York City, Rhoda was a window dresser at Hempel's after being fired at Bloomfield's department store in Minneapolis. She rented an attic loft apartment in the same house as the building manager, Phyllis Lindstrom.
After Mary Richards moved into the apartment below Rhoda, they quickly became best friends. Throughout the series, Rhoda and Phyllis maintained an adversarial-but-friendly relationship. She also developed a close bond with Phyllis's daughter, Bess, who referred to Rhoda as her "aunt."
While living in Minneapolis, Rhoda received infrequent visits from her parents.
In 1974, Harper departed from The Mary Tyler Moore Show to star in Rhoda. After relocating back to New York City, Rhoda met ruggedly handsome Joe Gerard (David Groh) and married him soon afterward. The couple moved into the same building occupied by Rhoda's sister, Brenda. The marriage soured after two years, and they divorced. After arriving in New York, Rhoda started her own window dressing company and later took a job at costume company.
Rhoda gave up her career as a window dresser/costume designer and pursued a career as a photographer in the time between the 1978 cancellation of Rhoda and the 2000 made-for-television movie Mary and Rhoda. By this time she had also married and divorced Jean-Pierre Rousseau, a union which produced her only child, a daughter named Meredith.
Harper won four Primetime Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Rhoda, with three of these awards for The Mary Tyler Moore Show and one for Rhoda. In 2006, Entertainment Weekly ranked Rhoda Morgenstern 23rd on its list of the best sidekicks ever. Bravo ranked Rhoda 57th on their list of the 100 greatest TV characters. In 2000, Time magazine stated that Rhoda's relationship with Mary Richards was "one of the most renowned friendships in TV.