A few days after more than one million women marched around the world for equal rights, Mary Tyler Moore, the actress behind one of the most popular female icons of all-time, died on Wednesday (January 25) at the age of 80.
“Today beloved icon Mary Tyler Moore passed away at the age of 80 in the company of friends and her loving husband of over 33 years, Dr. S. Robert Levine,” said Moore’s rep in a statement.
“A groundbreaking actress, producer, and passionate advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Mary will be remembered as a fearless visionary who turned the world on with her smile.”
Moore began acting in the 1950’s and rose to fame a decade later after landing the role of Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
In an interview with Conan O’Brien in 2013, the show’s creator, comedian Carl Reiner, shared his experience of meeting Moore for the first time.
“I grabbed the top of her head and I said ‘Come with me,'” Reiner told O’Brien. “I walked her down the hall to [Show producer Sheldon Leonard] and said, ‘I found her!'”
Dick Van Dyke, who played Moore’s husband Robert Petrie on the CBS sitcom, wrote about his co-star in a loving tribute published by The Hollywood Reporter.
“I don’t know what made her comic timing so great,” he wrote. “Mary just picked it up so fast. She had us all laughing after a couple of episodes.
“She just grabbed onto the character and literally turned us into an improv group, it was so well-oiled. That show was the best five years of my life.”
Van Dyke also shared a clip of the show on his Twitter account.
There are no words.
She was THE BEST!
We always said that we changed each other’s lives for the better.
— Dick Van Dyke (@iammrvandy) January 26, 2017
Lightning struck a second time when Moore landed the role that would come to define her career and, in many ways, her life.
As single working woman Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the actress revolutionized the roles females would play in television and the show’s opening theme song and freeze frame hat toss became iconic parts of pop culture.
The sitcom, which ran from 1970-1977 on CBS, earned three consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series and Moore picked up three Emmy’s and a Golden Globe award for her performance.
Co-star Ed Asner, who played her boss Lou Grant, shared his condolences in a pair of tweets.
#marytylermoore my heart goes out to you and your family. Know that I love you and believe in your strength.
— Ed Asner (@TheOnlyEdAsner) January 25, 2017
A great lady I loved and owe so much to has left us. I will miss her. I will never be able to repay her for the blessings that she gave me.
— Ed Asner (@TheOnlyEdAsner) January 25, 2017
Moore was much more than just a popular TV star, her portrayal of a modern woman navigating a male-dominated work force (something she also represented in real-life) inspired countless females, including Oprah Winfrey.
“Mary Tyler Moore majorly influenced my life and career,” Winfrey told People. “I respected and admired her business acumen, her passion and compassion for all life, and most importantly, the values espoused through her storytelling.
“I thank her for being a light that shined so brightly, it let me see myself in her.”
In 1997, Moore surprised Winfrey on her talk show leaving her speechless and in tears. It was a moment she recalled on Twitter, Wednesday.
Even now looking at this picture I want to cry. I still can’t believe Mary Tyler Moore touched my face. Will love her 4 ever. pic.twitter.com/6u4ELq27vN
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) January 25, 2017
Also included in the celebrity social tributes were Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, and Ellen DeGeneres. Three stars who’ve continued Moore’s legacy of powerful women in television.
Mary Tyler Moore changed the world for all women. I send my love to her family.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 25, 2017
After the successful run of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Moore found steady work in Hollywood including a dramatic turn as a grieving and bitter mother in 1980’s Ordinary People, which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
In her personal life, Moore was married three times and had one son, Richie, who died in 1980 at age 24 after accidentally shooting himself with a shotgun.
Politically, she campaigned for Democratic President Jimmy Carter’s reelection in 1980, though later in life she identified herself as “more of a libertarian centrist” and admitted to being a fan of FOX News.
Ironically, given her role as a feminist role model on TV, Moore declined to join Gloria Steinem’s feminist movement of the 1970’s.
“I believed — and still do — that women have a very major role to play as mothers,” Moore said in the 2013 PBS series Pioneers of Television: Funny Ladies.
“It’s very necessary for them to be with their children. That’s not what Gloria Steinem was saying. She was saying you can do everything and you owe it to yourself to have a career. I really didn’t believe that.”
Philanthropic work included her support of animal rights (via Farm Sanctuary and Broadway Barks) and advocacy for juvenile diabetes research.
Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in her 30’s, Moore championed causes to help those struggling with the disease and served as international chairwoman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Shortly after her death, a tribute page was set up to honor Moore’s life and work with JDRF. Visit at mooreforever.org.
According to her family, Moore’s cause of death was due to cardiopulmonary arrest after she contracted pneumonia. She passed away at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, CT.
Also a published author of two memoirs and co-founder of MTM Enterprises, Mary Tyler Moore is survived by her husband of 33 years, Dr. S. Robert Levine.
Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.
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