One of the most beloved television stars — an icon of the industry — Mary Tyler Moore, has passed away in Connecticut. She was 80 years old. Moore died from complications of pneumonia and diabetes, surrounded by her husband of 33 years, Richard Levine, and some family members (her only child died in 1980).
Mary Tyler Moore shot to international fame when she and her then husband, Grant Tinker, launched the hit TV series, the Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1970. It ran for seven seasons, spinning off two comedies, Rhoda, starring Valerie Harper and Phyllis, starring Cloris Leachman.
After The Mary Tyler Moore show went off the air another of Moore’s co-stars from that show, Ed Asner got his own show as the gruff editor Lou Grant, an hour-long drama. But the MTM label, which produced these four shows, went on to produce some of televisions most enduring programs: Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, The Bob Newhart Show, WKRP in Cincinnati and more.
Throughout her career, which started in the late 1950s when she was just 18 years old, went from short spots dancing (she wanted to be a professional dancer), to guest appearances on hit television programs and some movies, to being cast as the wife of Rob Petrie, Laura, on the hit TV series, The Dick Van Dyke Show. Created by Carl Reiner, it ran for five seasons, winning 15 Emmy awards, including one for Mary Tyler Moore: Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead) in 1964.
Mary Tyler Moore starred in several popular films: Thoroughly Modern Millie, Change of Habit (with Elvis Presley), and Ordinary People, which won several Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director (Robert Redford) and Best Supporting Actor (Timothy Hutton). Moore was nominated for Best Actress, but the Oscar went to Sissy Spacek who won for Coal Miner’s Daughter. Moore’s portrayal of an angry, grieving mother was a stark change to the bubbly, almost always smiling character of Mary Richards, from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Although her career as a television and film actor was never as bright as it had been in the 1960s and 70s, the shows produced by the company that bore her name were some of the best of the era. Because of her hits with The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Moore will forever be known for great, high quality television.
Moore was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was 33 years old. In her first memoir, After All (1995), she said she was a recovering alcoholic. She wrote a second memoir, Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes that focused on living with the disease. She became a strong advocate for those suffering from Type 1 Diabetes, becoming the International Chairperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
She was also a strong advocate for the human treatment of animals, especially those in factory farms.
Moore had deep family roots in Virginia, and owned or helped maintain several Civil War-era buildings, including the home owned by Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Tilghman Moore. He let Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson use it as a headquarters.
Mary Tyler Moore will forever be remembered as one of America’s lasting sweethearts.
Photos from Wikipedia
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