updated 03/06/2013 AT 6:30 PM ET
•originally published 03/09/2013 AT 6:30 PM ET
Valerie Harper has accumulated more than four decades’ worth of television memorabilia during the course of her extraordinary career, and right now much of it is cluttering the dining room of the cozy 1930s Spanish-style bungalow she shares with her husband of 26 years, Tony Cacciotti, in Santa Monica, Calif.
Among the keepsakes: the signature head scarves from her hit series Rhoda, her four Emmys, and nine neatly stacked piles of well-worn scripts from Rhoda and its television forerunner, The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
“I’m just putting them in order,” she says, pointing to the scripts, many of which are filled with personal scribbles. “This is the very first one – the pilot. Look at how cute this is. There are notes like, ‘dinner with Betty’ “– i.e., Betty White, her MTM costar. “They were in the garage and I just got them out. I don’t know what I should do with them.”
Until just seven weeks ago, the unsentimental actress – who hasn’t even watched most of her own shows – rarely looked to the past. But now she is eager to reflect on a life well-lived and impart the lessons she has learned along the way.