Shelley Morrison, who is best known for her role as maid Rosario Salazar on Will & Grace, has died at the age of 83 from heart failure following a short illness.
Born to Sephardic Jewish parents who emigrated to the US from Spain, Morrison appeared in 68 episodes of the pioneering LGBT comedy between 1999 and 2006.
While Morrison was reportedly only meant to be in the program for a single episode, Salazar proved so popular that she ended up appearing in eight seasons. Morrison reprised her role in a 2016 election webisode in support of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, though she did not return for the reboot in 2017.
Despite not returning for the later series, Morrison remained fond of her character; according to the Associated Press, she recently commented that Salazar “[reminded] 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.”
Following the news of Morrison’s death, her Will & Grace co-stars took to social media to remember her.
“My heart is heavy,” Megan Mullally wrote. “Thank you for your friendship & partnership, Shell. You accomplished wonderful things in this world. You will be missed.”
Sean Hayes, who played the role of Jack McFarland, paid tribute to his former co-star on Instagram, saying Morrison had “the biggest heart.”
“Shelley was a beautiful soul & a wonderful actor,” Eric McCormack wrote. “Her work as Rosario, season after season, was as nuanced and real as it was hysterical.”
“Oh, Shelley… what a loss,” Debra Messing wrote next to a video from Will & Grace featuring Morrison. “Shelley had a career that spanned decades, but she will always be our dear Rosie.”
Before Will & Grace, Morrison was best known for playing Sister Sixto on The Flying Nun as part of the ensemble cast led by Sally Field, from 1967 to 1970.
In that role, Morrison was a Puerto Rican nun, who would misunderstand or mangle English colloquialisms when speaking to her fellow nuns.
She guest-starred on dozens of television series starting in the early 1960s, and appeared in films alongside Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn and Salma Hayek.