Valerie Harper sued by producers, playwright of 'Looped'

Actress Valerie Harper visits "FOX & Friends" at Actress Valerie Harper visits "FOX & Friends" at FOX Studios on April 17, 2014 in New York City. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Monica Schipper

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In what TMZ.com is calling "the most tasteless lawsuit we've ever read," the producers and the playwright of the Broadway play "Looped" are suing its star, Valerie Harper, for not revealing she had cancer.

The website reported Sunday that playwright Matthew Lombardo and the producers of his 2010 comedy are claiming star Harper had failed to notify them of her cancer during 2012 preparations for the national tour. The lawsuit asks for $500,000 for economic damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages.

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The suit says when Harper, 74 -- who earned a Tony Award nomination playing cantankerous Old Hollywood star Tallulah Bankhead -- began forgetting lines and slurring her speech during rehearsals, Lombardo urged her to seek medical attention. She did so in January 2013 and learned she had the rare brain cancer leptomeningeal carcinomatosis. She began receiving chemotherapy, but her doctors believed she had as little as three months to live.

With Harper forced to leave the "Looped" tour, the producers searched quickly for a replacement, eventually casting Stefanie Powers. They failed to pay the remainder of Harper's contract, prompting the four-time Emmy Award-winner to sue. The producers then filed this suit.

Harper has responded exceptionally well to treatment and continues to appear in occasional TV roles. Earlier this month, a magazine erroneously quoted her saying she was completely free of cancer, prompting her to clarify in a statement that, "I am not 'absolutely cancer-free.' I wish I were. Right now what I am is cautiously optimistic about my present condition, and I have hope for the future."

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