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‘Will & Grace’ star Shelley Morrison, who played Rosario, dies aged 83

The US actress passed away in hospital in Los Angeles on Sunday (1 December).

By Will Stroude

Words: Will Stroude

Will & Grace actress Shelley Morrison, who played everyone’s favourite no-nonsense housekeeper Rosario on the hit NBC sitcom, has died at the age of 83.

The US actress passed away after suffering heart failure in hospital in Los Angeles following a short illness on Sunday (1 December), her publicist confirmed.

Morrison’s recurring role on Will & Grace as Karen Walker (Meghan Mullally)’s beleagured housekeeper and sparring partner Rosario was initially imagined as a one-off guest appearance, but the character’s popularity ensure she appeared in a further 67 episodes during the show’s original run between 1998-2006.

The actress’s husband Walter Dominguez told ABC: “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…

“She believed that the best way to change hearts and minds was through comedy.”

While Morrison made a brief cameo appearance in the 2016 presidential election webisode that led to Will & Grace’s return to primetime, she did not appear in the show’s subsequent revival seasons, with the character of Rosario being written out of the series in 2017 after suffering a heart attack off-screen in season 9 episode ‘Rosario’s Quinceanera’.

Morrison’s former castmates Debra Messing, Meghan Mullally, Eric McCormack and Sean Hayes have all been paying tribute on social media.

In a post on Instagram, Messing wrote: “Oh, Shelley… what a loss. Our dear Rosario has passed on. Shelley had a career that spanned decades, but she will always be our dear Rosie.

“She was a kind soul with a huge heart and always had a smile on her face. All my love to Walter and the entire family.”

Mullally, with whom Morrison shared most of her scenes, said: “[Shelley] was such an integral and important part of my experience at Will & Grace, and became a friend in the intervening years. she was loving, strong, supportive, and kind. she and her husband Walter Dominguez had a wonderful, loving, and inspiring 46-year marriage.

“He was always by her side. please put him and their children and grandchildren in your thoughts. i will miss you, Shelley. thank you for the years of partnership and for your friendship and support.

Quoting the words her character Karen uttered following Rosario’s on-screen death last year, Mullally added: “Te amo, mami”.

Meanwhile, McCormack wrote: “Shelley was a beautiful soul and wonderful actor. Her work as Rosario, season after season, was as nuanced and real as it was hysterical.

“She will be missed by everyone at #WillandGrace. She’s a huge part of it. Sending so much love to Walter and Shelley’s whole family.

Hayes added: “Such sad news. Our beloved Shelley Morrison passed away today. She was absolutely hilarious and had the biggest heart.

“She was a part of our Will and Grace family and will be greatly missed. My heart goes out to her entire family.”