Famous for her smile, which could light up millions of rooms of families that watched her shows, legendary actress Mary Tyler Moore passed away at the age of 80. She was surrounded by friends, and third husband of over 33 years, Dr. S. Robert Levine. The groundbreaking actress, producer, and passionate advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation was in poor health for some time, and had been hospitalized for complications from diabetes.
The comedienne who idealized the single lady lifestyle taught an entire generation that the secret to happiness was self-fulfillment, and that women deserved to be treated equally as men.
Moore is most known for her iconic roles as housewife Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and the beret-tossing career woman Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore show. She won two Emmys for The Dick Van Dyke show, four Emmys for her own show, and one for best supporting actress in miniseries for the 1993 TV feature flick “Stolen Babies.” Dick Van Dyke presented Moore with the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award in 2012. Moore was also nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for the 1980 drama Ordinary People.
Before she struck fame as Laura Petrie, the Brooklyn born actress was working hard towards her goal for 10 years via smaller TV roles. Thanks to the Dick Van Dyke show, Moore managed to become a style icon due to Laura’s on-point capri pants and perfect flip hair. Those very same pants also made her a feminist icon, as the notion of women wearing pants back in the day was considered to be everything but “normal.” Allegedly, Moore was constrained to wearing pants for one scene per episode.
Apart from her legendary TV roles, the feisty actress was noted for her (first major) movie role in Thoroughly Modern Millie, opposite Julie Andrews. It was after this role that she landed her own show, whose main character, TV news writer Mary Richards, proved that finding Mr. Right doesn’t have to be a priority on any woman’s list. The Mary Tyler Show dealt with Mary’s dating adventures, workplace politics, the gender gap, the sexual revolution, and other women’s rights issues.
Although most of her roles were light-hearted (at least on surface), her private life was everything but. Mary Tyler was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1969, at the age of 33. She struggled with alcoholism in the 1970s (much like her mother), while her younger sister, Elizabeth, died of a drug overdose in the same decade. Moore’s only son, 24-year-old Richard Carlton Meeker Jr., fatally shot himself in October 1980, and her brother John died in 1992 after a hard battle with cancer.
Animal lover, feminist, and generally a human rights activist, Mary Tyler Moore will live on via her rich legacy.