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Shelley Morrison, ‘Will & Grace’ Actress, Dies at 83

Shelley Morrison, who played Karen Walker’s sharp-tongued yet endearing maid Rosario Salazar on “Will & Grace” from 1999-2006, has died. She was 83.

Morrison died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles from heart failure after a brief illness, Morrison’s publicist, Lori DeWaal, told The Associated Press.

Rosario, who hailed from El Salvador, was originally written to appear in just one episode of the hit NBC series, but her dynamic with Megan Mullally’s Karen resonated so well with audiences that the charater went on to appear in 68 episodes over eight seasons of the original series. According to co-creator Max Mutchnick, Morrison was asked to reprise her role for the revival of “Will & Grace,” but had decided to retire from acting completely.

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nbc-Tv/Kobal/Shutterstock (5885557i) Shelley Morrison Will & Grace - 1998 NBC-TV USA TV Portrait
CREDIT: Nbc-Tv/Kobal/Shutterstock

Sean Hayes, who played Jack McFarland on “Will & Grace,” remembered Morrison in an Instagram post.

“She was absolutely hilarious and had the biggest heart,” he wrote. “She was part of our Will and Grace family and will be greatly missed. My heart goes out to her husband, Walter and her entire family.”

Debra Messing also paid tribute to Morrison on Instagram.

“What a loss,” she wrote. “Shelley had a career that spanned decades, but she will always be our dear Rosie.”

Mullally wrote that “her heart is heavy.”

“Thank you for your friendship & partnership, shell. you accomplished wonderful things in this world. you will be missed.”

Eric McCormack wrote that Morrison was “a beautiful soul and wonderful actor,” and lauded her performance on “Will & Grace,” calling it “as nuanced and real as it was hysterical.”

“Rosario is one of my all-time favorite characters,” Morrison said recently, according to the AP. “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.”

Cast of WILL AND GRACEEmmy Awards - 10 Sept 2000 September 10, 2000 Los Angeles, CA Shelley Morrison, Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes Press Room at the 52nd Annual Emmy Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium. Photo®Berliner Studio/BEImages
CREDIT: Bei/Shutterstock

The “Will & Grace” ensemble, including Morrison, was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild award for best ensemble in 2002 and 2004. Morrison received two American Latino Media Arts Award nominations for outstanding supporting actress in a TV series in 2006 and 2002, as well as one for outstanding actress in a TV series in 2001 for her role on the show.

Before her turn on “Will & Grace,” Morrison was best known for playing Sister Sixto on “The Flying Nun” alongside Sally Field in the late ’60s and early ’70s. She also had extensive credits as a guest actress, including roles on “The Partridge Family,” “Three’s A Crowd,” “My Favorite Martian,” “Laredo,” “Gunsmoke” and “General Hospital.” She also appeared in the 1997 rom-com “Fools Rush In,” with Salma Hayek and Matthew Perry.

Morrison is survived by her husband of more than 40 years, Walter Dominguez.

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