Actress Mary Tyler Moore passed away at the age of 80 on January 25, 2017. Ms Moore inspired millions of women around the globe with her famous roles as Mary Richards in The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970) and the critically acclaimed 1980 movie Ordinary People. Along with her many acting awards, Mary he will be remembered as a courageous visionary who lit up the world with her strength and smile.
Born in the Brooklyn Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, Moore was the eldest of three siblings. She moved to Los Angeles when she was just 8 years old and was raised Catholic. Moore began her entertainment career as a dancer at the age of 17 and made her first television appearance in 1950’s Private Detective – where her legs were featured and her face was not even shown. She soon landed several big parts in movies and on television in roles on Bourbon Street Beat, 77 Sunset Strip, Surfside Six and several others.
In 1961 Mary landed the role of Laura Petrie on the hugely popular The Dick Van Dyke Show where she ultimately won her first of two Emmys. She connected outrageously well with Van Dyke and their entertaining banter made them one of television’s sweetest couples of all time. The show ended in 1966 and Mary moved on to the big screen, starring in the movies Thoroughly Modern Millie and Change of Habit.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show started in 1971 and launched a new phase in Moore’s entertainment career. The Mary Tyler Moore Show gained quick popularity, in part due to its opening credits with its catchy theme song, Mary’s exquisite smile, and the way she tossed her famous knit hat into the air. In the show, Moore played Mary Richards, a single working woman in an era when women were fighting for equality and independence. Mary and the show are credited for reinventing the sitcom with its unique writing style and Mary’s comedy brilliance. The show followed Mary who had just came out of a broken relationship and was in the beginning stages of her career at a small TV Station.
She produced the series with her husband Grant Tinker and the help of MTM Enterprises. The show was such a huge success that other cast members – Valerie Harper as Rhoda Morgenstern, Cloris Leachman as Phyllis Lindstrom, and Ed Asner as Lou Grant – were eventually given their own television shows. The Mary Tyler Moore Show stayed at the top of TV ratings for six consecutive years but slipped dramatically during its 7th season. As a result of the sagging ratings, producers decided to cancel the series to save the show’s legacy. Despite the final season’s poor ratings, it still managed to grab that year’s Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series.
Check out these comedy vignettes from the first season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show:
After appearing as a nun in Change of Habit in 1969, Mary Tyler Moore did not appear in any other feature films for the next 11 years. She did, however, make a remarkable comeback in 1980 by featuring in the film adaptation of Judith Guest’s novel Ordinary People. It was surprising to see Moore in the role of a suburban mother shortly after the tragic death of her 24-year-old son by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Although her real-life son’s death was ruled accidental, her son in the movie attempts to commit suicide. Her fantastic performance in Ordinary People obtained an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Moore was diagnosed with Diabetes at the age of 33, which eventually led to her serving as the chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Mary was not shy when it came to discussing her struggles with alcohol addiction and she opened up about her issues in a 1995 tell-all autobiography, After All. In the book, she revealed that her troubles with alcohol ran deep in her family history. Both her mother and sister, she recanted in the book, were afflicted with addiction as was her only son. In addition to her diabetes and alcohol addiction, Mary had brain surgery in 2011 to remove a meningioma and had several other health issues over the years.
Moore was an inspirational animal rights activist, working with the animal rescue firm Farm Sanctuary and co-founding Broadway Barks. Her contributions with Farm Sanctuary include raising awareness about factory farming and promoting the kind treatment of farm animals. Broadway Barks raises awareness about high-kill shelters and creating more opportunities for homeless animals to get adopted.
Starting around 2009, Moore began showing a strong interest in politics where she took on the identity of a libertarian centrist who watched Fox News. In her final years, she suffered from a long series of challenging health problems including a worsening case of diabetes. However, she turned those struggles into passionate efforts for more research on health conditions. TMZ reports that Moore had been on a respirator for about a week prior to her death on January 25, 2017 in a Connecticut hospital in the presence of friends and family.
This article is written in loving memory of the talented Mary Tyler Moore, may she rest in peace. Her incredible strength, honesty, talent, charisma and charm will be truly missed.