Shelley Morrison, whose 64-year acting career included playing the memorable maid Rosario on NBC’s “Will & Grace” from 1999 to 2006, died Sunday in Los Angeles. She was 83.
Her husband, Walter Dominguez, said the cause was heart failure.
“Shelley’s greatest pride as an actress was in playing the indomitable Rosario in a comedy series that furthered the cause of social equity and fairness for LGBTQ people,” Dominguez said in a statement. “She also took pride in portraying a strong, loving yet feisty Latina character.”
He added: “She believed that the best way to change hearts and minds was through comedy.”
The daughter of Spanish immigrants, Morrison was born in the Bronx in New York City on Oct. 26, 1936. A street sign carries her name at 159th Street and Grand Concourse Boulevard as part of the Bronx Walk of Fame. She was raised in the Bronx but later moved to Los Angeles, where she attended Los Angeles City College and began her stage career, becoming one of the city’s first female stage producers.
She would later move into film and television, including playing Sister Sixto on “The Flying Nun” in the late 1960s. She also appeared in dozens of other television shows, including “Murder She Wrote,” “L.A. Law,” “Home Improvement” and “Columbo.”
But she was best known for her work on “Will & Grace,” where she played a maid to Karen, played by Megan Mullally. As one of the few characters willing to stand up to her socialite boss, Rosario became a fan favorite.
“She reminds me a lot of my own mother, who loved animals and children, but she would not suffer fools,” Morrison said of her character in a biography released by her publicist.
She and her husband met in 1973 and together adopted three sons and three daughters through a Native American ceremony. Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.
Morrison lived in the same apartment building in Los Angeles for 69 years, promising her parents, who had also moved there, that she would always take care of it.