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Shelley Morrison Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (2)  | Trivia (7)

Overview (4)

Born in The Bronx, New York, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart failure)
Birth NameRachel Mitrani
Height 5' 5" (1.65 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Despite remaining on the periphery of character stardom for a number of years, New York-born character actress Shelley Morrison, who enjoyed a long and varied career on film, TV and the stage for decades, finally became a household favorite as the argumentative, razor-tongued maid Rosario Salazar on the enduring hit NBC comedy Will & Grace (1998), which she played from 1999 to 2006.

Spanish-speaking Rachel Mitrani was born in the Bronx on October 26, 1936, the daughter of a Spanish-Jewish clothing manufacturer. She moved with her parents to Southern California when she was 10 years old. Following high school graduation, she studied acting at Los Angeles City College and began her career on the stage. Among her early theatre credits was an appearance in a national road production of "Orpheus Descending" and, as one of L.A.'s pioneering female producers, she mounted the West Coast premiere of "Sweet Bird of Youth." Despite her busy schedule on film and TV, Shelley would remain firmly entrenched in the theater as a performer, producer and director both here and abroad. Morrison was eventually honored with the "Eternity Award" for lifetime achievement at the Twelfth Annual Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival.

Changing her stage name to "Shelley Morrison" in the late 1950's to avoid ethnic typecasting, Shelley broke into TV in 1961, finding bits on such prime-time shows as "Adventures in Paradise," "Outer Limits," "Dr. Kildare," "The Farmer's Daughter," "The Fugitive," "Gunsmoke," "Laredo," and "My Favorite Martian". Finding herself usually cast as a Hispanic or Native American, Shelley's most visible character during this period, and the one people remember with great fondness, was as the adorably shy but spirited Puerto Rican-born Sister Sixto, who had problems mastering English, in the gentle comedy series The Flying Nun (1967) which starred Sally Field as fellow novice Sister Bertrille and Madeleine Sherwood as their Mother Superior.

Handed a Columbia Pictures contract, Shelley found minor parts in such film features as The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), link=tt0060219], Divorce American Style (1967), Funny Girl (1968), How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life (1968), Three Guns for Texas (1968) and Mackenna's Gold (1969). Into the 1970's she found herself on such popular programs as "The Bold Ones," "The Partridge Family," "Marcus Welby," "The Rookies," "Soap," "Murder, She Wrote," "Sisters," "Columbo," "L.A. Law" and "Home Improvement," while showing up in such films as the romantic dramedy Blume in Love (1973); the Clint Eastwood directed drama Breezy (1973); the comedy spoof Rabbit Test (1978); the Neil Simon comedy drama Max Dugan Returns (1983); and as Rosa the maid in the adventure comedy Troop Beverly Hills (1989) starring Shelley Long.

It was another standout maid portrayal, however, that became Shelley's favorite. In 1999, she joined the cast of the comedy hit Will & Grace (1998) as the peppery Salvadoran housekeeper who shared a caustic love/hate relationship with wealthy boss, Karen Walker, played by Megan Mullally. What was suppose to be a one-episode spot proved so hilarious as the two butted heads and traded wicked barbs, that the Rosario character became a strong, recurring presence during the entire first run of the show.

In later years, Shelley became a two-time breast and lung cancer survivor. Following a fairly steady vocal role as Mrs. Portillo in the animated Spanish-oriented children's series Handy Manny (2006), the actress decided to retire. Asked to return to the "Will & Grace" show when it was resurrected in 2017, she politely declined. After Shelley's death in 2019 from heart failure following a brief illness, the death of "Rosie" was played out and mourned on an episode of the TV show.

Shelley was survived by her writer/assistant director husband Walter Dominguez and their six sons and daughters -- all adopted through a traditional Native American ceremony. Long ago the couple embraced the spiritual Native American traditions of the Lakota Sioux and lived for decades in the same L.A. apartment building that her parents owned when she was a child.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Family (2)

Spouse Walter Dominguez (11 August 1973 - 1 December 2019)  (her death)  (6 children)
Parents Mitrani, Maurice Nissim
Mitrani, Hortense

Trivia (7)

Multi-ALMA Award nominee for her work on Will & Grace (1998), the role for which she is most famous.
A breast and lung cancer survivor.
Married to non-fiction writer Walter Dominguez; together they have been honored for their work providing for the homeless and low-income families. The couple also adopted three sons and three daughters (through a traditional Native American ceremony). The couple had two dogs, a chow-collie mix (named Katie) and a Skye terrier mix (named Charlie).
In 2003, Morrison was arrested once on a charge of shoplifting at a Robinsons-May store. She pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of petty theft and fined $300 fine, given one year probation and told to stay away from the store.
Morrison appeared onstage in more than 65 plays and guest-starred in more than 150 television series (aside from her recurring role on Will & Grace (1998)) during her career.
Appeared with her Will & Grace (1998) co-star Debra Messing in an episode of Prey (1998), entitled "Revelations". Messing was a steady member of the cast but Morrison was making a guest appearance.
Morrison was born as Rachel Mitrani to Hortense (nee Aleolombre or Alcouloumre; 1903-1981), a homemaker, and Maurice Nissim Mitrani (1899-1967), a clothing manufacturer. Both of Morrison's parents were Sephardic Jews who became naturalized United States citizens before their daughter's birth. The family moved to Los Angeles when Morrison was 10 years old. She studied drama for three years at Los Angeles City College.

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