LOS ANGELES -- Diminutive actress Nancy Walker, best known for her role as the feisty Mrs. Morgenstern on 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and 'Rhoda,' and most recently in the TV series 'True Colors,' died Wednesday at her home of cancer, her daughter said. She was 69.
Walker's daughter, Miranda Craig, said the actress had a recent recurrence of a lung cancer first diagnosed and removed in 1982.
Her most recent TV work was on Fox's 'True Colors.' She appeared in the series' first 20 episodes, missed the 21st because of her illness, then appeared in the final episode in a wheelchair.
'For the millions who enjoyed her talent and for those who had the privilege of knowing her and working with her, Nancy Walker's passing is a great loss indeed.' 'True Colors' executive producer Michael Weithorn. 'Tonight there is a little less laughter in the world.'
But it was as the indefatigable Jewish mother of Rhoda Morgentern in 'Mary Tyler Moore' and its spinoff 'Rhoda' that brought the 4-foot- 11-inch, Walker her biggest fame.
Almost literally born in a trunk, Walker's parents were dancer Myrtle Lawler and vaudevillian Dewey Barto. She started singing on radio and in nightclubs in her teens and debuted in musical theater in the 1941 hit 'Best Foot Forward.'
Critic Walter Kerr called her the nation's greatest clown.
Walker moved to Hollywood, making such pictures as 'Girl Crazy' and 'Broadway Rhythm.' She returned to Broadway to star in 'On the Town,' 'Look Ma, I'm Dancing' and 'Along Fifth Avenue.'
After several more years of acting, singing, dancing and directing on Broadway, Walker moved to Los Angeles in 1970 to concentrate on movies and television.
Her first TV series was 'Family Affair,' followed by the memorable Mrs. Morgenstern in 'Mary Tyler Moore' and 'Rhoda.' At the same time she was appearing in 'MacMillan and Wife,' becoming the first actor to appear on rival networks in simultaneous, successful series.
She later did her own series, 'The Nancy Walker Show.'
Her craggy face is famous as Rosie, the quicker-picker-upper Bounty paper towels TV pitchwoman.
She is survived by her husband, musical theater writer and coach David Craig, and their only child, Miranda. There will be no services and the burial will be by the Neptune Society.