In honour of the late Shelley Morrison, here’s 5 things we loved about her iconic Will & Grace character Rosario
Shelley Morrison, best known for starring in Will & Grace, has passed away aged 83. Here, we celebrate her iconic character Rosario Salazar.
It was announced on Monday morning that the Bronx-born actor had passed away suddenly of heart failure, following a short illness. She is survived by her husband of more than 40 years, Walter Dominguez, and their children.
Born to Sephardic Jewish parents who emigrated to the US from Spain, Shelley Morrison found early success in shows such as General Hospital and The Flying Nun.
But her star was truly made in the pioneering LGBT sitcom Will & Grace, in which she played Karen Walker’s maid, Rosario.
Reportedly conceived as a one-off cameo, Rosario was so well-received that she ultimate appeared in 69 episodes of Will & Grace’s original eight-year run, more than any other supporting character.
Morrison called the maid one of her “all-time favourite characters”.
“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,” she said, according to the Associated Press.
“She reminded me a lot of my own mother who loved animals and children, but she would not suffer fools.”
As tributes continue to Shelley Morrison pour in, we take a look back at some of Rosario’s best moments.
Rosario’s first-ever appearance came in the season one finale, ‘Object of My Rejection’, in which she was threatened with deportation back to El Salvador.
Desperate not to lose her employee and friend, Karen set up a green card wedding between Rosario and Jack.
As was often the case, Karen was presented as a boorish racist, telling Rosario: “Sit-o down-o. Try not to talk-o.”
In perfect English, Rosario turns and says: “Do you hear how she talks to me?”
Getting to know Rosario.
As the series progressed writers fleshed out Rosario’s back story, with Morrisey’s portrayal helping to evolve the character from one-dimensional caricature to fully-realised person.
Over the years we discovered that Rosario had previously been a school teacher and had studied for a clinical psychology degree in Texas, before moving to the Bronx and befriending a young, undiscovered Jennifer Lopez.
It was never fully explained how Rosario came to work as Karen’s maid – we learned that they met at a nightclub where Rosario was working as a cigarette girl, but not how or why she decided to accept the role.
Regardless, these flourishes made Rosario an enigma, someone not to be underestimated.
Reading Karen Walker.
Years before RuPaul introduced the concept of reading to the masses, Rosario was on network television doing the Lord’s work week in, week out.
Her friendship with Karen was fiery and volatile, with the pair reading each other to high filth regularly, and with great fervour.
Some of Rosario’s best reads include: “Whenever I get together with my friends and we talk about who works for the craziest b****, I always win,” “I’d ring your neck, but I don’t want to be standing in a puddle of gin,” and – in the 2006 finale, “Suck it, b****.”
Keeping Stan’s secret.
The eighth (and at the time, final) season of Will & Grace opened with a live episode in which Karen discovered that her husband Stan had faked his death and was in fact still alive. What’s more, the only person he’d trusted with this information was Rosario.
Understandably, Karen was devastated by the news and promptly sacked her maid, giving us a chance to see Rosario in a new light, working as a bar attendant and living with Will and Grace until the pair made amends.
When Will & Grace was rebooted in 2017, Morrison elected not to return, having decided to retire from acting completely.
“It was with a heavy heart that she gave us that information and that we received it, but it is the way that it goes,” said the series’ co-creator Max Mutchnick.
For the first few episodes of the ninth season, writers found ways around Rosario’s absence but eventually they made the decision to kill off the character, giving her the send-off she deserved.
Karen gave the character a moving eulogy at a quinceañera-themed funeral, describing her as her “sparring partner,” her “best friend” and her “everything.”
The character would later return one last time, delivering a message to Karen by using Jack as a conduit.
“You were made from the Devil’s foreskin and put on earth to torture me, every day I regret not replacing your vodka with drain cleaner.”