"Charming, brave-yet-vulnerable Mary was aspirational; Rhoda was the reality of the insecurity built into living a life that didn’t quite fit the trajectory of the life one was supposed to have, even if it was the one she wanted," says Emily Alford in a tribute to Harper, who died Friday at age 80. She adds: "It’s easy to overlook the fact that Harper was beautiful, talented, and incredibly charming because she played Rhoda the loser, cracking sarcastic jokes while hidden in a caftan, so well. On the show, jokes were often at Rhoda’s expense, about her weight, her perpetual singledom, the monotony of her job, and those punchlines were many times delivered by Rhoda herself. In one episode, Mary castigates Rhoda for her constant negative self-talk." But, Alford says, "being the Rhoda means having the freedom to be the imperfect star of your own story with a closet full of caftans and no idea what you’re doing." ALSO: With Rhoda, Harper went from sidekick to star.