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R.I.P. Will & Grace actress Shelley Morrison

Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

Shelley Morrison, most famous for playing El Salvadoran maid Rosario Salazar on Will & Grace for several seasons, has died of heart failure, Variety reports. She was 83.

Although the Members-Only-jacket-sporting Rosario, engaged in a neverending battle of wits and affection with her employer, Megan Mullally’s Karen Walker, was her most famous role, Morrison’s acting career spanned decades. She previously played Sister Sixto on Sally Field’s 1960s sitcom The Flying Nun. She appeared in TV series as varied from My Favorite Martian to The Rookies to Home Improvement, as well as a voiceover role for several seasons on Handy Manny as Mrs. Portillo. Her filmography includes Fools Rush In and Troop Beverly Hills. She also frequently performed on the stage; one of her earliest roles was in a touring road company of Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending.

Her website, shelleymorrison.com, states that despite her success, Morrison had lived in “the same family home her father bought six decades ago” in Los Angeles. She is survived by her husband of 30-plus years, nonfiction author Walter Dominguez, as well as the couples’ three sons and three daughters, who they “adopted through a traditional Native American ceremony,” reflecting the couple’s spiritual interests. She was active in a variety of charities, such as the American Cancer Society (Morrison herself was a cancer survivor). One year on Will & Grace she gave all “91 cast and crew on the show a hand-knitted scarf or cap for a holiday gift, some of which she had partially knitted on-screen during filming.”

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In the biography posted on her website, Morrison states why the role of Rosario was so important to her: “It is very significant to me that we are able to show an older, Hispanic woman who is bright and smart and can hold her own.” Although she was offered a chance to reprise the role in the recent Will & Grace revival, she turned it down, and the death of Rosario was written into a moving episode for Mullally.

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Gwen Ihnat

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.