LOS ANGELES — Shelley Morrison, an actress with a 50-year career who was best known for playing a memorable maid on “Will & Grace,” died Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles from heart failure after a brief illness, her publicist said. She was 83.
Ms. Morrison played Rosario Salazar, a maid from El Salvador, in the original run of “Will & Grace” from 1999 to 2006, in a cast that won a Screen Actors Guild award for best ensemble in a comedy series.
The character, originally written for a single episode, was so popular in her interactions with costar Megan Mullally that she would appear in 68 episodes during the NBC series’ eight seasons.
“Rosario is one of my all-time favorite characters,” Ms. Morrison said recently, according to a statement and biography announcing her death. “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.”
Sean Hayes, who played Jack McFarland on the sitcom, wrote in an Instagram post that Ms. Morrison ‘‘was absolutely hilarious and had the biggest heart.’’
In addition to the opportunity to portray a strong Latina, Ms. Morrison valued “Will & Grace” for its breakthrough TV depiction of gay characters, said her husband, Walter Dominguez.
Before “Will & Grace,” Ms. Morrison was known for playing Sister Sixto on “The Flying Nun” alongside Sally Field from 1967 to 1970. She also guest-starred on dozens of television series starting in the 1960s.