Actress who played Rosario on Will & Grace, Shelley Morrison, dies aged 83

Shelly Morrison, who played Rosario on Will & Grace

Shelley Morrison, best known for playing Karen Walker’s maid Rosario on Will & Grace, has died at the age of 83.

The actress passed away from heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after a brief illness.

Will & Grace initially ran for eight seasons from 1998 to 2006, before its reboot in 2017, and was one of the first mainstream TV shows to focus on gay characters.

Morrison was initially supposed to appear in just one episode but the incredible chemistry between her and Megan Mullally, who plays Karen, meant that she starred in 68 episodes across all eight seasons of the original series. Morrison did not appear in the show’s revival.

Morrison’s husband Walter Dominguez told ABC in a statement: “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.”

The other Will & Grace stars honoured Morrison on social media. Mullally wrote on Twitter: “My heart is heavy. Putting Shelley, her beloved husband Walter & their children in the light.

“Thank you for your friendship & partnership, Shell. You accomplished wonderful things in this world. You will be missed.”

Debra Messing, who plays Grace, also wrote on Twitter: “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. All my love to Walter and the entire family.”

Shelley was a beautiful soul & a wonderful actor,” added Eric McCormack, who plays Will.

“Her work as Rosario, season after season, was as nuanced and real as it was hysterical. She will be missed by everyone at Will & Grace, she’s a huge part of it. Sending so much love to Walter and Shelley’s whole family.”

According to ABC, Morrison said shortly before her death: “Rosario is one of my all-time favourite characters. She reminds me a lot of my own mother, who loved animals and children, but she would not suffer fools.

“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.”